Glaucoma is often referred to as the "silent thief of vision" due to its ability to cause damage to the optic nerve without any symptoms. But there are some signs you can keep an eye out for when it comes to this disease. Here is what they are.
Glaucoma is a term that covers a number of different eye diseases. In each case, damage to the optic nerve due to abnormally high intraocular pressure is the cause of vision loss amongst patients diagnosed with these conditions.
Sadly, there are very few early warning signs associated with glaucoma. Most often, someone only notices a change to their vision or eye health after the disease has progressed to the point where significant damage and vision loss has already occurred. This is why it is so important to see your optometrist regularly and have them perform glaucoma screening tests on your eyes.
While it can be tough to spot glaucoma early on, there are several successful treatment options available once it has been diagnosed. These treatment methods can either slow the progression of the disease or even stop it completely.
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Glaucoma can affect people of any age, but it is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness in adults who are older than 60. This group of progressive eye diseases has very few symptoms early on in its development, making it especially difficult to diagnose without the help of an optometrist.
The most common form of glaucoma is open-angle glaucoma. Typically, this type of glaucoma presents with no symptoms until the peripheral vision of a patient begins to be lost. Sometimes, a patient may also experience blind spots or patchy vision when suffering from open-angle glaucoma.
As the vision loss caused by glaucoma is permanent, early detection and treatment are critical to mitigating the damage it can cause.
Comprehensive Eye Exams Are Your Best Ally Against Glaucoma
The number one way to detect glaucoma and begin treating it early is through the use of comprehensive eye exams. Your optometrist will be able to measure your intraocular pressure to make sure it is within the normal range. They will also conduct a visual field test as part of your glaucoma screening to make sure your peripheral vision is still intact, as losing this form of vision is often an indicator of the disease.
By having your eyes examined regularly by your optometrist, they can help you catch glaucoma early and prevent vision loss from happening.
When Glaucoma is an Emergency
Though less common, angle-closure glaucoma is considered a medical emergency and its acute attacks can quickly cause irreversible vision loss. Unlike open-angle glaucoma, this version of the disease does present with symptoms at its onset. The symptoms of angle-closure glaucoma include:
- Blurry vision
- Very intense headache
- Eye pain
- Vomiting and nausea
- Seeing rainbows or halos around lights
Should you ever experience any of these symptoms, seek emergency medical care right away. You can call your local optometrist and they will be able to put you in contact with the on-call ophthalmologist immediately so you can receive urgent care from them.
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If You Are Over 60, Visit Your Optometrist Every Year
If you are older than 60, it is imperative that you visit your optometrist at least once a year to rule out glaucoma. If you are over 65, Alberta Health Care will fully cover the cost of your annual eye exam. Just make sure it includes glaucoma screening and is not just a vision and eye assessment.
Should you need a comprehensive eye exam with glaucoma screening in Calgary or Three Hills, be sure to book an appointment with us today. We would love nothing more than to help keep your vision and eyes healthy for years to come.
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If you need a comprehensive eye exam in Calgary or Three Hills, My Optometrist Calgary has you covered with our advanced eye care and experienced optometrists. Contact one of our My Optometrist Calgary clinics at either 403-256-0606 (Health First Optometry), 403-291-0923 (Sunridge Vision Centre), or 403-443-2040 (Three Hills Optometry) and book your appointment today.
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What is usually the first sign of glaucoma?
Usually, the loss of peripheral vision is the first sign of glaucoma. It's important to note that this usually doesn't occur until the disease has progressed quite far already though.
Can glaucoma be stopped?
While glaucoma is incurable, its progression can be stopped using various treatment methods.
What is the best treatment for glaucoma?
It depends on the specific case, but some of the best treatment options for glaucoma include prescription eye drops, oral medications, laser treatment, and surgery.