Ilex Eye: Eye Doctors in Waterloo

Glaucoma

How will my optometrist diagnose glaucoma?

As part of your ongoing routine care, your optometrist will regularly monitor your intra-ocular pressure (IOP) and carefully examine your optic nerve.  Should there be concern about glaucoma, further investigation may be recommended, including automated visual field analysis (AVF, or side vision testing), corneal thickness measurement, and optical coherence tomography (OCT, specialized imaging of the optic nerve and retina).  For Ontarians aged 20 to 64, these procedures are not insured by OHIP unless a diagnosis of glaucoma is confirmed, and their cost is the responsibility of the patient or their private insurer.

What are the symptoms of glaucoma?

Untreated glaucoma slowly but steadily erodes peripheral (side) vision.  While many of us are familiar with the symptoms of blurred vision or headaches when our prescription changes, peripheral vision loss is not apparent until a great deal of damage has occurred, essentially leaving tunnel vision.  In short, glaucoma has no symptoms ... and this means that regular eye examinations are critical in diagnosing glaucoma as early as possible.

What can be done if I have glaucoma?

If you are diagnosed with glaucoma, your optometrist will usually initiate treatment with a topical (eye drop) medication to lower your intraocular pressure and improve blood flow to the optic nerve. Routine monitoring of your response to treatment, including optic nerve and peripheral vision assessment, is critical. If necessary, a second or third drop may be added, or an ophthalmologist may perform a laser or other surgical procedure to improve pressure control.

As is the case with most diseases, early diagnosis is key to successful treatment: be sure to follow the examination schedule recommended by your optometrist.

What is glaucoma, and how does it affect the eye?

Glaucoma is a disease that causes progressive and irreversible damage to the optic nerve, the ‘cable’ that transmits information from the retina to the visual portion of the brain.  Increased pressure within the eye is a strong risk factor for glaucoma; however, blood flow and genetics (family history) are also important.  Optic nerve damage results in peripheral (side) vision loss that is irreversible, and can dramatically impact quality of life.

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