Protect Your Eyes from the Silent Thief of Sight
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that progressively damage the optic nerve. Because the optic nerve is responsible for transmitting visual information from the eyes to the brain, this damage can lead to irreversible blindness.
Glaucoma often develops slowly, painlessly, and with few symptoms. Since it can lead to vision loss and blindness, it’s crucial to catch glaucoma early. We provide glaucoma screenings at Vancouver Block Optometrists to detect any early signs so we’re better able to protect your health.
Visit us soon for a comprehensive eye exam.
What Causes Glaucoma?
The exact cause of glaucoma is unknown, but it’s often characterized by high internal eye pressure (intraocular pressure or IOP). However, not all forms of glaucoma occur with high IOP, and not everyone with high IOP will develop glaucoma.
Some theories suggest an inadequate blood supply or an overly sensitive optic nerve could lead to glaucoma. It also tends to run in families.
We include glaucoma screening during every eye exam for both children and adults. A screening can help us identify a glaucoma suspect, someone with early warning signs of glaucoma. If we suspect glaucoma, we’ll perform more thorough, comprehensive testing to provide an accurate diagnosis.
Glaucoma screenings include testing your IOP using:
- Goldmann applanation tonometer: The “gold standard” for determining IOP. It measures the amount of force needed to temporarily flatten your cornea.
- Non-contact tonometer: The “air puff” test that measures the amount of air needed to flatten the cornea.
- Perkins tonometer: A hand-held applanation tonometer that works on the same principle as the Goldmann tonometer.
- Icare tonometer: A rebound tonometer that determines IOP by measuring the rebound rate and contact time of the probe that touches the cornea.
Types of Glaucoma
Between the iris and cornea is an opening called the drainage angle. When this angle is open, your optometrist can view almost all of your eye’s drainage system using a special mirrored lens. Some people have a naturally narrow angle, and their optometrist will only be able to see part of their drainage system.
This drainage system and angle are essential for draining the aqueous humour, the fluid produced in the eye that provides nutrition and maintains stable pressure in the eye. When this fluid can’t drain properly, it remains in the eye and destabilizes the eye’s IOP, which can lead to glaucoma.
There are several types of glaucoma. Regardless of the type you have, it will lead to vision loss if left untreated. The type of glaucoma determines the most effective treatment.
Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of this eye disease, accounting for 90% of all glaucoma cases.
It occurs when there’s a slow clogging of the drainage canal despite the angle remaining open. It develops slowly, without symptoms, is accompanied by high IOP, and is a life-long chronic condition.
Treatments usually involve controlling the eye’s IOP with eye drops but can also include laser trabeculoplasty or surgery.
Angle-closure glaucoma is less common than open-angle glaucoma but is much more severe. It can be chronic or acute and results from a closing of the eye’s drainage angle, resulting in increased IOP.
Acute angle-closure glaucoma is a eye care emergency requiring immediate care to prevent vision loss. It develops very quickly and comes with severe and noticeable symptoms, such as eye pain, severe headache, nausea, and vomiting.
Treatment usually includes a combination of pressure-lowering medications and laser iridotomy to stop the attack as quickly as possible.
Normal-tension glaucoma is a type of open-angle glaucoma that develops when eye pressure remains normal, but optic nerve damage still occurs.
Despite eye pressure remaining within normal limits, most eye care professionals treat it the same way they treat open-angle glaucoma, with pressure-lowering medications, laser treatments, and surgery.
- #800-736 Granville Street
- Vancouver, BC V6Z 1G3