Introduction to Glaucoma

You may have heard of glaucoma, or maybe not.  However, you should know that while this disease affects over 250,000 people in Canada - only half of them know it! This is important because glaucoma is the second most common cause of vision loss in people over the age of 65. Glaucoma has no symptoms and the only way that glaucoma can be detected is through regular eye exams.

So I hear what you’re thinking. I’m not 65. Why do I care? Well, just because glaucoma is the second most common cause of blindness in people over 65 doesn’t mean it only strikes people in that age range! One in two hundred people under the age of 50 are also affected.

Glaucoma doesn’t have symptoms, at least not until the disease is end stage. So what does it do? Glaucoma causes a slow, symptomless, painless loss of your peripheral vision. Peripheral vision, or the sight you have all around what you’re looking at directly, helps you know your surroundings. It helps you detect the cars around you when you drive, it helps prevent you from hitting your head on objects above you. Basically it helps you maneuver in your world.

This is what tunnel vision looks like. Since the vision changes happen slowly most people with glaucoma have no idea they're losing vision.

So where does glaucoma come from? What causes it? Those are very complicated questions for later blogs! The short answer is we really don’t understand exactly where glaucoma comes from. We know that if someone in your family had glaucoma your risk goes up. Certain groups of people, those with certain types of vision prescriptions, age and gender all can play a role. One of the problems with really nailing down a definition is that there are many types of Glaucoma. There really isn’t any one thing in common across all the different types of glaucoma except that there is damage to the optic nerve causing loss of your peripheral vision.

The best prevention is seeing your Optometrist for regular eye exams.  Get checked, and ask them about your risk for glaucoma.  

If you have any questions about this or anything else feel free to contact us on TwitterFacebookGoogle +, via our website or phone us at (403) 474-6744. To learn more about glaucoma check out the links below.

The CNIB (Canadian National Institute for the Blind) - Glaucoma

The Canadian Association of Optometrists - Glaucoma

The Alberta Association of Optometrists -Glaucoma

The American Optometric Association - Glaucoma