The Low Vision Center at Family Optical: Treating Glaucoma Patients From Winnipeg, Manitoba
Glaucoma is a group of progressive eye diseases affecting millions of people worldwide. Learn about what causes this disease, how it is treated, new research and medical technologies, and preventative care. Our Low Vision Doctor, Dr. Colleen Mulhall, helps patients from Winnipeg and the state of Manitoba with Glaucoma regain visual activity so they can go back to doing the things they love to do and live independently.
What Is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that cause progressive destruction of the optic nerve caused by a buildup of pressure in the eye. This pressure, called intraocular pressure (IOP) can damage the optic nerve if it is too high for the eye. The optic nerve is an important part of the visual system because it transmits nerve signals from the retina to the brain. The brain processes these nerve signals into images, allowing you to understand what you see. When the optic nerve is damaged, this path of messages to the brain is disrupted, making it difficult to process the images or objects in your line of vision. This difficulty leads to vision loss.
Glaucoma is the primary cause of preventable vision loss and blindness in adults in the United States and Canada. It is the second leading cause of blindness globally (reference: Quigley and Broman “Number of people with glaucoma worldwide in 2010 and 2020”, 2006).
The most common type of glaucoma is called Primary Open Angle Glaucoma (POAG). A key indicator for POAG is high intraocular pressure (IOP). Healthy IOP is required to maintain the structure of the eye and to nourish the cornea, but when the IOP is too high it can damage the optic nerve. When glaucoma is detected early enough, it can usually be managed sufficiently to prevent more acute advanced vision loss and blindness. Unfortunately, signs of more obvious vision loss tend to appear only after the disease has deteriorated and has given glaucoma the term, “The Sneak Thief of Sight.” Whatever vision is lost is permanent.
What Advanced Technology is Available to Help Glaucoma Patients?
There have been considerable advancements in both optical design and manufacturing of Low Vision telescopes, microscope glasses, filters, and prisms. In addition, a wide range of digital devices can strengthen the functional ability of a glaucoma patient, such as portable digital magnifiers, IrisVision, Orcam, Jordy, eSight, and CCTV’s, as well as portable digital magnifiers. Each patient is unique, so it’s essential to speak with the right doctor who can help you manage your glaucoma condition and help you do the things you enjoy.
How To Cope With Glaucoma Disease
However mild or severe your case of glaucoma is, know that you are not alone. We can help manage the disease as well as help you continue to do the things you enjoy. Early detection is key to stopping or slowing the disease progression and saving your vision.
Since symptoms often don’t present themselves until the disease has progressed, regular eye exams which include a glaucoma screening are crucial. Once diagnosed with glaucoma, our goals are to regulate the pressure buildup in the eye, slow down the condition from developing further, and help you continue doing the types of things you enjoy.
While glaucoma can make it difficult to read, drive, cook, watch TV, drive, and recognize faces, difficult is not impossible. Coping with glaucoma means using a combination of treatments, medications, and low vision aids to get back to doing what you love.
What Are The Symptoms Of Glaucoma Disease?
Glaucoma usually begins to develop without any noticeable symptoms. At the beginning stages of “open angle” glaucoma (the most common form of the disease), vision doesn’t change much and the person doesn’t experience any uncomfortable symptoms or pain. You may experience a gradual loss of peripheral (side) vision and eventually, your central vision.
Congenital glaucoma is a form of glaucoma that is inherited from parents. Babies are born with a visual defect that causes the normal fluid drainage from the eye to slow down. It is usually diagnosed by the time the child turns a year old. Typical symptoms of this form of glaucoma include frequent tearing, sensitivity to light, large or protruding eyes, or cloudy eyes.
In more severe cases, such as angle-closure glaucoma, symptoms may appear suddenly. Acute glaucoma causes severe pain and must be treated as an emergency. Also, Headaches, blurry or foggy vision, seeing halos around lights, and sometimes nausea can happen quickly. If this happens, seek medical attention immediately.
These are signs of sudden increased intraocular pressure, and the longer is goes untreated, the greater the likelihood of permanent vision loss, even within just a few hours.
What Are The Causes Of Glaucoma Disease?
Glaucoma is caused by a buildup of pressure, called intraocular pressure (IOP). High amounts of IOP damages the optic nerve, resulting in a gradual loss of vision. If left untreated, this disease can eventually lead to total blindness. This type of vision loss is irreversible.
That’s why it’s so important to schedule regular eye exams which include a glaucoma test. The sooner the disease is diagnosed, the sooner you can receive treatment.