Glaucoma patients - care and treatment

Glaucoma - the silent thief of sight

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma patients suffer from the  buildup of internal eye pressure (known as intraocular pressure), which can damage the eye's optic nerve.  Damage to the optic nerve can be extremely serious, as the optic nerve transmits visual information to the brain.  

The tragic result of glaucoma is decreased ability to see at the edges of your vision, damaging your peripheral vision.  One of the earliest life consequence of glaucoma is the loss of the ability to drive a car, which can greatly impact your ability to live life the way you want.  As glaucoma gets worse, progressive damage may lead to  blindness.  Once you lose vision to glaucoma it is permanent.  Nothing can get your vision back, which is why prevention is so critical.

In fact, glaucoma creates at least some vision loss in more than half of the approximately 2.5 million Americans estimated to have glaucoma and is the second leading cause of blindness.

Glaucoma Symptoms

Doctors call glaucoma "silent thief of sight," because most types of glaucoma typically cause no pain and produce no symptoms until noticeable and permanent vision loss occurs.  In the early stages, the only way to detect glaucoma is to see your eye doctor for an eye health exam in which the doctor routinely checks for glaucoma.

However, with a type of glaucoma known as acute angle-closure glaucoma  sudden symptoms can cause include blurry vision, halos around lights, intense eye pain, nausea and vomiting. If you have these symptoms, make sure you see an eye doctor or  visit the emergency room immediately so steps can be taken to prevent permanent vision loss.

Early detection in an eye exam is critical to prevent blindness

Early detection is key because if caught early glaucoma can be managed and its progress halted.  But there are virtually no symptoms in the early stages of the disease.  That is why early detection is only possible through a complete eye exam by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. 

Diagnosis, Screening and Tests for Glaucoma

During a routine eye exam, Dr. Randhawa and her associate doctors use a tonometer  to measure your intraocular pressure. Your eye typically is numbed with eye drops, and a small probe gently rests against your eye's surface.

High eye pressure is an indicator of a problem with the amount of fluid  in the eye. Either the eye is producing too much fluid, or it's not draining properly.

Normally, the pressure in the eye should be below 21 mmHg (millimeters of mercury).

If your pressure is higher than 30 mmHg, your risk of glaucoma damage is 40 times greater than someone with an IOP of 15 mmHG or lower.

Glaucoma can be successfully treated and managed.  The first step is to visit a doctor do ensure that you are not a victim of the "silent thief of sight."

Tragic stories of vision loss from glaucoma

An article in the Toronto Star presented the following story that puts a human face on the tragedy that can occur if one ignores the need for eye exams as well as how fortunate you can be if you see your optometrist:

'Keith Henderson, 62, a retired millwright in Alvinston, Ont., is fortunate. Ten years ago his brother was diagnosed with advanced glaucoma, which prompted Henderson to see an optometrist and request extra vigilance. Extra tests — which he had to pay for — showed he had high pressure. He eventually had prophylactic laser treatment to relieve the pressure.
“I won’t lose my eyesight to glaucoma because of what has been done,” says Henderson.

'"Henderson’s brother, Larry, now 65, is just about completely blind now, he says. The factory worker, was 55 when diagnosed, didn’t know to get regular exams.
“He didn’t get checked because he didn’t have coverage and then it started to get severe,” Henderson says. “They’ve got him as good as they could get him, but he’s lost a terrific amount of his vision.”

"Diagnoses before there is vision loss is key. For patients, who catch it early and are diligent with treatment, vision can be preserved, Buys says.

'Too many are doing it too late. “In a country that boasts of universal health care, our patients are coming in with already serious and significant loss of vision,” Hutnik says.'


More information on Glaucoma

January 2013 is Glaucoma Awareness Month
Jan 16, 2013

Childhood Glaucoma - even kids can go blind from it
Sep 14, 2013

The best protection against glaucoma 
Feb 27, 2012

South Asians are at higher risk of glaucoma
Jan 17, 2013

Vision loss from glaucoma - preventable if caught early
Jan 29, 2013

Health warning on eye drops - some drops can cause glaucoma if not caught used properly
Jan 05, 2012

The myopia epidemic: why it is so dangerous –increased glaucoma risk
Oct 12, 2011

Only 38 years old and suffering permanent vision loss from glaucoma
May 24, 2011

An eye exam is one of the best things you can do for your overall health.

An doctor's eye exam is one of the best things you can do for your overall health.  It can even save your life. Brain tumors, cancer and diabetes are often diagnosed first in the eyes - early enough to initiate treatment which could save your life.  Remember, the earlier we catch a disease the easier it is to beat it.


To protect your heart, get an eye exam

To protect your heart, get an eye exam!

"Get an eye exam" to protect your heart  - on Good Morning America - April 2012