Glaucoma Week raises awareness about one of leading causes of vision loss
Thursday, Mar 13, 2014 10:34 am
The week of March 9 through 15 is Glaucoma Awareness Week and a local optometrist wants to make sure residents know the disease is one of the leading causes of blindness in Alberta.
“It can effect all ages in fact it can even happen in new borns,” said Dr. Debbie Luk, Airdrie Browz Eyeware owner and optometrist.
Though the disease is more frequently seen in people over the age of 40, Dr. Luk encourages parents to have their children’s eyes tested at as early as six-months old.
She suggests a routine eye exam every one to two years with dilation every two years.
“A comprehensive eye examination is often the only way to detect glaucoma,” Dr. Luk said.
“During your exam, your optometrist will look into your eye to assess the health of the optic nerve, measure your field of vision and perform a simple and painless procedure called tonometry, which measures the internal pressure of your eye.”
She said the dilation allows doctors to use 3D technology to assess risk factors for glaucoma.
While the exact cause of disease is not completely understood, Dr. Luk said glaucoma is usually the result of the overproduction of fluid in the eye and/or a decrease in the fluid being drained from the eye that causes increased pressure in the eye.
This results in damage to the optic nerves and a decrease in the amount and quality of information sent from the nerve to the brain causing a loss of vision.
“As long as the pressure is controlled, the chance of it progressing to glaucoma is very, very low,” Dr. Luk said.
She said preventative check ups are important because the disease is often called the thief of sight because by the time the patient has symptoms, it’s usually too late.
She added the first noticeable symptom for patients tends to be tunnel vision, which effects their peripheral vision and can lead to the suspension of a driver’s license.
Dr. Luk said though there is no cure for glaucoma, if caught early is can be prevented from progressing.
“There is a certain eye drop that can be used to treat it,” she said, adding laser treatment is also an option.