Learn About Glaucoma from Your Winnipeg Optometrist
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a general name for a series of eye conditions associated with an increased pressure inside the eye. There is fluid inside the eyes known as aqueous humor, and it is constantly being produced. It is supposed to drain through tiny ducts in the iris, and this keeps the pressure inside the eye normal. However, sometimes things go wrong with these ducts, and they don't allow the eye to drain like it is supposed to, which causes increased intra-occular pressure. If the pressure gets high enough, it can start to damage the optic nerve, and diminish vision. Eventually, if it is not treated, glaucoma can damage the optic nerve so much that you lose all vision. The damage from glaucoma is irreversible, but it can be managed if caught early, and eyesight can be protected and preserved with proper treatment. There is a genetic link to some types of glaucoma, while other types are the result of age and racial heritage.
Most of the time, the various types of glaucoma have no symptoms. When they do start to show symptoms, there is usually already some vision loss. Symptoms of glaucoma of any type can include things like eye pain, vision loss you can notice, headaches, dizziness, nausea, and other similar things. Most types of glaucoma cause a loss of peripheral vision first if they are not treated. Closed-angle glaucoma comes on suddenly, unlike the other types of glaucoma, and is unusual in that it requires emergency surgery to save vision. Other types of glaucoma can be treated more mildly over a long period of time.
How Does Your Optometrist in Winnipeg Treat Glaucoma?
It is important to get annual exams at your optometrist in Winnipeg to check for glaucoma. A glaucoma test is easy, painless, and when taken annually, can catch glaucoma in its earliest stages, when vision is still clear and undamaged, and the condition is easiest to treat. The test involves testing the pressure inside the eye, usually with a puff of air to each eye. Sometimes, the test is done by placing numbing drops in each eye to ease the blink reflex, and a lighted probe is rested briefly on the surface of each eye to get a measurement. Your eye doctor in Winnipeg will also use dilating drops on your eyes to be able to see inside them more clearly and make sure there is no optic nerve damage or other eye disease or damage going on in there.
If you do have glaucoma, your Winnipeg optometrist will usually prescribe medicated eye drops for you as a first line of treatment. These drops reduce the amount of fluid the eyes produce, and/or improve the drainage in the eyes. If something stronger is needed, oral medication can be prescribed. Drops usually do well for a long time. However, if the symptoms get worse, or if drops don't help your glaucoma get under control, you can be treated with laser surgery. A trabeculoplasty is the most common, which is a painless procedure done on an outpatient basis. It adjusts the drainage mechanisms of your eyes to help them drain better. Your Winnipeg eye doctor can make a referral for you to get the surgery, and will also provide pre and post-operative care for you.
What to Do Next?
You can do some things to alleviate any glaucoma symptoms at home. Avoiding straining your eyes, drinking plenty of water, and sleeping with your head slightly elevated are all proven ways of alleviating symptoms.
If you have been diagnosed with glaucoma, remember that although it can't be cured, it can be successfully treated and managed if it is caught early. Vision can even be preserved if it is caught later, as long as the right medical interventions are made. Being diagnosed with glaucoma does not mean you will lose your sight. In fact, you probably won't. It just means you need to take some extra steps to protect it. We will help you along the way.
Contact us today at (204) 837-2020 to make an appointment today to come in and get your annual eye exam and glaucoma test. Your eyes will thank you.