Glaucoma pertains to a group of diseases that results in damaged optic nerves, leading to blindness. Family eye care provider Vision Care Plus shares a few important things about glaucoma, which may be helpful to you, your friends and your loved ones.
Glaucoma Has No Apparent Symptoms
Glaucoma can happen to anyone. More than 2.7 million Americans over age 40 are diagnosed with glaucoma, and that number is expected to double by the year 2050. While it is the second leading cause of blindness in developed countries, glaucoma does not show any symptoms: no pain, no blurring, and it can develop in one or both eyes. During its later stages, the eyes will slowly lose their peripheral vision, later leading to what essentially is “tunnel vision.” Over time and without treatment, central vision will start to decline, until one or both eyes are completely blind.
Glaucoma Can Be Detected
Currently, the only way to catch glaucoma is by getting a comprehensive dilated eye exam. An eye care professional administers drops of ophthalmic atropine onto the patient’s eyes during the exam. This makes the pupils dilate, allowing a full inspection of the back of the eyes. If signs of glaucoma are found, the eye care professional can determine whether the patient needs to undergo vision therapy, or—as is often the case with children—if the patient has to undergo another test in a year’s time.
Damaged Optic Nerves Cannot Be Restored
Glaucoma can be slowed down or even stopped, if detected and treated while in its early stages. Once the damage to the optic nerves have set in, it cannot be restored. Certain factors such as increased eye pressure can increase the risk of glaucoma. So far, the only clinically proven glaucoma treatment is reduction of eye pressure.
New Glaucoma Treatments Are Being Researched
Future patients will hopefully benefit from new treatments that are currently being researched. The National Eye Institute is researching a type of contact lens that dispenses medication directly onto the eyes. Research is also being conducted on ways to protect retinal ganglion cells, the cells that make up the optic nerve. For now, we recommend seeing your local eye care professional and having your eyes examined.
To learn more about glaucoma treatments, or if you need the services of an optometrist, call Vision Care Plus today at (844) 201-5900. You can also fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment with one of our eye doctors. We serve Leduc, AB, and surrounding Alberta areas.