According to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the country. Here are the important warning signs of this eye disease you need to know.
Glaucoma refers to a group of eye conditions that have to do with abnormally high intraocular pressure. This higher-than-normal eye pressure can cause damage to the optic nerve, which could result in vision loss or blindness if left untreated.
There are three distinct types of glaucoma. They are:
- Open-angle glaucoma
- Angle-closure glaucoma
- Normal-tension glaucoma
Each different type of glaucoma generally first develops or begins without any noticeable signs or symptoms. For this reason, regular eye exams that include glaucoma testing and glaucoma screening from your Calgary optometrist are strongly recommended. These advanced forms of eye care can quickly and accurately detect glaucoma using state-of-the-art technology, allowing you and your optometrist to begin treating the condition preemptively before any damage or vision loss is experienced.
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Common Glaucoma Symptoms
Open-angle glaucoma: In the early stages of this form of glaucoma, there are no discernible or obvious symptoms or warning signs. However, as open-angle glaucoma progresses, blind spots will develop in your peripheral vision.
For the majority of people who have open-angle glaucoma, only until the damage is quite severe do they notice any changes to their vision. Once again, this highlights the importance of visiting your optometrist on an annual basis so they can perform a comprehensive eye exam to look for any signs or indications of this 'silent thief of sight' as it has come to be known.
Angle-closure glaucoma: Preceding an angle-closure glaucoma attack, most people will usually not show or experience any symptoms. In some cases though, early symptoms may include halos, blurred vision, eye pain, or a mild headache. If you ever find yourself experiencing these symptoms, you should contact your optometrist right away as this form of glaucoma is considered an eye emergency. They can then put you in touch with the on-call ophthalmologist nearest to you.
Once an angle-closure glaucoma attack is underway, you can expect to experience the following:
- Severe eye pain or severe pain in your forehead
- Eye redness
- Blurry vision or decreased vision
- Seeing rainbows or halos
Again, angle-closure glaucoma is a serious eye emergency that must be treated and addressed by an ophthalmologist immediately, otherwise permanent vision loss or blindness may occur.
This form of glaucoma is still a mystery as to why it occurs among the scientific community. Those who experience normal-tension glaucoma have intraocular pressure that falls within the normal ranges, yet they experience optic nerve damage and glaucoma symptoms such as blind spots in their vision nonetheless.
While all three types of glaucoma eventually present with symptoms, they usually do so once extensive damage to the optic nerve has already occurred and permanent vision loss or blindness is irreversible. Because of this, regularly visiting your optometrist for a comprehensive eye exam that includes glaucoma screening and testing is your only safe bet when it comes to protecting your vision from this group of eye diseases.
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If you're worried about glaucoma and want to rule it out through a comprehensive eye exam that includes glaucoma screening, My Optometrist Calgary has you covered. 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.
Q: Can glaucoma be stopped?
While the damage done by glaucoma to the optic nerve cannot be cured or reversed, its progression can be stopped. If left untreated and high eye pressure remains unaddressed, glaucoma is likely to develop more rapidly.
Q: How long does it take to go blind from glaucoma?
Because it usually develops slowly, early-onset glaucoma can take about 15 years to cause blindness when left untreated. As mentioned above, angle-closure glaucoma is a rapidly progressing form of the disease and must be addressed right away. Otherwise, damage to the optic nerve and the accompanying vision loss and blindness that can result from that damage may occur very quickly.
Q: Does stress cause glaucoma?
Chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels have been found to negatively impact the eye and brain. For these reasons, stress may be a major cause of visual system diseases like glaucoma.