Regular eye exams are vital to visual health and early detection of glaucoma

Glaucoma is called ‘the silent thief’ by ophthalmologists as symptoms are inconspicuous at first, but can leave permanent vision damage.

There is a reason that glaucoma is called ‘the silent thief’ by ophthalmologists—symptoms are inconspicuous at first, but once they do present themselves, permanent damage to vision may have already occurred.

According to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), approximately 250,000 Canadians have glaucoma. It is the second most common cause of vision loss in Canada, and there is no cure.

The only preventative measure for glaucoma, which can cause loss of peripheral vision, tunnel vision and blindness, is testing. Regular eye exams are the only way to diagnose this condition, which is caused by increased pressure within the eye that cannot be felt.

“Once glaucoma hits a certain point, it’s very hard to prevent it from getting worse,” said Dr. Nav Nijhawan, Chair of the Eye Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. “It’s extremely important that people have their eyes examined regularly because it’s the only way to diagnose glaucoma in its early stages.”

To diagnose glaucoma and determine what treatment is required, ophthalmologists must conduct an optical coherence tomography (OCT) scan to assess the optic nerve and a visual field test to detect central and peripheral vision problems.

Early detection and treatment is essential to prevent severe vision loss or blindness.

Glaucoma Risk Factors from CNIB:

• Elevated pressure in the eye

• Family history

• Advancing age

• Being of African or Asian descent

• Near sightedness

• Diabetes

• Hypertension

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