TYH: If Untreated, Glaucoma Can Cause Blindness

By CKPGToday
March 13, 2018 - 7:48pm Updated: May 17, 2018 - 11:20pm

It affects the optic nerve, and if it isn't properly treated, can lead to blindness. On today's To Your Health, Catherine Hansen takes a look at glaucoma.



And now, "To Your Health". Brought to you by Hart Drugs, Third Avenue Pharmacy and the Phoenix Pharmacy.

(Catherine Hansen - Reporting:)
Worldwide, it is the second leading cause of blindness next to cataracts, and often those who have glaucoma don't even know. More than 250,000 Canadians have chronic open-angle glaucoma, the most common form of the disease. Glaucoma occurs due to damage to the optic nerve.

(Dr. Jennifer Wilczek - Optometrist :)
"Basically what happens is the pressure in the eye is too high for the eyeball itself, and that extra pressure puts the pressure on the nerve fiber layer, and that's what gets killed off with the higher pressure and it gets manifested in the optic nerve head. Once that starts to happen, we start to lose our peripheral vision. So basically glaucoma means you can end up with tunnel vision at the end of the day when it's quite advanced."

If left is untreated, glaucoma can advance to later stages where central vision narrows to tunnel vision, or it may result in complete loss of vision. Early detection and treatment is essential to prevent these. The disease typically presents in those from forty years old and on.

"When we do routine eye exams, we're looking at the back of the eye, the retina. We look at the macula, the centre of the vision, we look at the optic nervehead and we're looking to make sure that everything looks normal and perfect, things like that. So when we start to see abnormalities with the optic nerve head, that might trigger us to say 'hmmm, does this look like glaucoma?'. And then we can do further follow-up testing to see what's going on."

The good news, however, is that with early detection and treatment, one can usually prevent significant vision loss. And for those with vision loss, the CNIB has local services to help.

(Bari Colebank - CNIB Board Member and Client:)
"They help with mobility training, like learning how to use your cane. And they also help with independent living skills, like learning how to cook safely in your home and get around in your home safely. And they also help with the various technological devices - how to use magnifiers and assess low vision, low vision assessments and stuff like that as well."

Depending on which glaucoma is diagnosed, there is treatment, including eye drops to lower pressure in the eye, laser treatment and surgery. It is recommended those over the age of sixty-five see an eye specialist once a year, to help catch any vision problems that tend to come with age. To your health, Catherine Hansen, CKPG News.

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