Glaucoma is an eye disease that affects more than 400,000 Canadians, and many do not even realize that they have it. While there are multiple types of glaucoma that vary in severity, it remains the leading cause of irreversible blindness. To minimize the potential damage to the eyesight, it is important to detect glaucoma early. That means taking care of your eyesight and keeping up with your regular checkups. Understanding glaucoma is an important step toward preventing the disease. We put together a short overview of what glaucoma is and what you need to know to recognize the disease early.
Different types of glaucoma
There are four different types of :
Primary open-angle glaucoma – this is the most common type of glaucoma and affects 90% of the people who have glaucoma. This occurs when there is a partial block in the drainage of the fluid that flows throughout the eye, causing a build-up of pressure that affects the optic nerve. This can lead to a loss of peripheral vision. If not treated, it can result in a complete loss of vision.
Closed-angle glaucoma – this occurs when the fluid in the eye doesn’t drain properly, and the drainage angle of the eye becomes narrower and narrower due to bulging iris. This kind of glaucoma can happen gradually or suddenly, but it is a medical emergency and will require immediate medical attention.
Secondary glaucoma – as the name suggests, this type will occur as a result of another problem like an infection, surgery or inflammation near the eye. It can also occur from a medical condition, like diabetes.
Normal-tension glaucoma – this type of glaucoma is characterized by damage to the optic nerve even when the pressure in the eye remains normal. There are a number of reasons that may explain the damage, but usually, the exact cause is unknown.
Who is at risk of developing glaucoma?
The risk of developing glaucoma is higher for some groups and depends on several factors, including age (being over 60), a family history of the disease, an injury to the eye, long-term use of certain medications, and other conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease.
How can you prevent glaucoma?
If you start to notice any changes in your vision – like blurred vision, decreased vision or pain – it is important to get your eyes checked immediately. On top of that, regular eye checkups may help catch any issues early. It is recommended that you get your eyes checked every couple of years until you’re 64 and then every year after that.
Is treatment available for glaucoma?
Glaucoma can only be treated by relieving the pressure behind the eyes. The treatment plan could involve medications, eye drops or surgery. Your doctor will determine the best course of action based on your situation and medical needs. Unfortunately, there is currently no procedure or medication that can completely reverse the effects of glaucoma, but medical treatments may slow down the progression and prevent further vision loss.
Making sure you take care of your eyesight with regular checkups can help detect the signs of glaucoma early so that you have the best chances of preventing vision loss. If it has been a while since your last appointment with your eye doctor, make sure to schedule an appointment today for a checkup!
Our home care workers can help you keep up with your regular medical appointments to help ensure that conditions like glaucoma are diagnosed and treated early. Or, if you’ve already experience vision loss or are recovering from surgery, we can provide assistance at your home so you can maintain more of your independence.