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The Silent Eye-Thief

What is Glaucoma? 

Glaucoma is much more than just an eye-disease. Experts today believe that it’s a degenerative disorder of the optic nerve, associated with the buildup of pressure inside the eye. As this intraocular pressure continues to grow, it damages the optic nerve - responsible for receiving light from the retina and transmitting these impulses to the brain. Without treatment, glaucoma can lead to total and permanent blindness in one or both eyes within a few years.

According to the World Health Organization, glaucoma is the second leading cause of irreversible blindness globally. It has further been recorded that: 

  • Approximately 6 million people in the world suffer from this eye disease
  • 3 million Americans are afflicted with glaucoma
  • Almost half of the individuals who suffer from glaucoma don’t know that they have it

What is most worrying is that, despite its prevalence and severity, glaucoma is still a very misunderstood eye disease. While there is no known way of preventing glaucoma, blindness or significant vision loss can be halted if the disease is caught in its early stages.
That is why our team of Calgary optometrists are steadfast in their commitment to educate patients on the eye disease and today’s blog has been designed to outline the signs, symptoms and treatment options of glaucoma.

Are you risk for Glaucoma?

It’s important that all of our patients be concerned and well-informed about glaucoma, given that it can potentially affect anyone. However, there are several factors which put you at a higher risk of developing the disease. You should have regular eye-check ups at our Calgary Eye Clinic if you:

  • Are over the age of 40
  • Have a family history of glaucoma
  • Have diabetes
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have a history of eye injuries
  • Have been taking corticosteroid medications, in particular eyedrops, for a prolonged period of time.

What are the stages of Glaucoma? 

Glaucoma has been nicknamed ‘the thief of sight’ because it rarely presents symptoms in its early stages. In fact, the vision of someone at the beginning stages of open-angle glaucoma is almost identical to that of a patient with normal vision.

  • Stage 1 - The symptoms at the earliest stage of glaucoma may include a gradual and often imperceptible decrease of peripheral (side) vision
  • Stage 2 - As the glaucoma progresses, peripheral vision begins to noticeably fail. However, the center of your vision may still remain clear.
  • Stage 3 - During the most advanced stage of glaucoma, only a small area of the central vision remains. Eventually, the extensive damage to the optic nerve will result in total blindness.

The good news is that the progression of glaucoma can be significantly slowed or even halted and total vision loss prevented if the disease is caught early enough. Through a dilated eye-exam, one of our highly trained optometrists will perform a simple procedure to measure the internal pressure of your eye and check the health of your optic nerve.

What are the treatment options for Glaucoma?

While there is no known cure for glaucoma, it can be very successfully managed. If diagnosed early, treatment options include:

  • Eyedrops: The treatment of glaucoma often starts with prescription eye drops. These medications help decrease ocular pressure by reducing the amount of fluid your eye produces and improving the way it drains from your eye.
  • Oral medications: If we find that eyedrops don’t decrease your eye pressure to the desired level, oral medication may be prescribed, usually a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor.
  • Surgery: There are various technologically advanced techniques such as laser surgery and filtering surgery which can be used successfully to improve the drainage fluid inside your eye, therefore lowering ocular pressure.

These techniques have proven to be very successful in controlling glaucoma and preventing further vision loss in our patients. Keep in mind that vision loss due to glaucoma is irreversible and cannot be regained, which is why it is crucial to schedule regular check ups with one of our experienced optometrists.

Your eyes are very important. In fact, research has indicated that 64% of people value sight more than any other sense yet admit waiting months, sometimes years, before seeking help for deteriorating eyesight. If you are experiencing any new eye symptoms of vision problems, book an appointment with Market Mall Optometry today by calling us at 403.286.4884 or visiting

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