A common misconception about glaucoma is that it is a single eye disease, but in fact it is group of eye conditions that eventually lead to optic nerve damage.
In most cases, abnormally high pressure inside the eye due to fluid build-up is what causes the damage.
Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in North America. Early detection and treatment can greatly reduce or even prevent optic nerve damage.
Unfortunately, the signs and symptoms of glaucoma progress gradually and often individuals do not notice any loss of vision until the disease has significantly progressed.
Therefore, it is very important to have your eyes examined on a regular basis.
There are several types of glaucoma, each with completely different symptoms. I will not go into detail regarding the different types of glaucoma as it is beyond the scope of this article. However, the symptoms of glaucoma may include: eye pain; blurred vision; halos around lights; loss of peripheral vision; and tunnel vision. If you experience any of these symptoms or other changes in your eyesight, it is important to seek medical attention.
In some cases of glaucoma the exact cause is unknown, thus it is termed primary glaucoma. When the cause of glaucoma can be explained by such things as eye injuries, medications, eye conditions and diabetes it is called secondary glaucoma. The goal with all forms of treatment is to reduce the pressure within the eye. The treatment of glaucoma usually begins with medicated eye drops.
It is important to use these eye drops exactly as instructed by your doctor, as improper use may lead to further eye damage. The eye drops are designed to reduce the pressure within the eye by decreasing the fluid present inside the eye. If eye drops are unsuccessful, oral medications may be prescribed. Surgery is only considered if all other forms of treatment fail. One type of surgery involves using a high-energy laser beam to open clogged drainage canals in the eye to help fluid drain more easily.
Another possible surgical option is placing drainage implants in the eye to aid in the flow of fluid.
Although it is not possible to completely prevent glaucoma, there are a few things you can do to reduce your risk. First of all, eating a healthy diet including fresh fruits and vegetables and getting adequate physical activity will help maintain overall eye health.
Also, limiting the amount of caffeine intake may also help maintain normal eye pressure.
Keep these simple tips in mind and you will be well on your way to healthy eyes.
Until next month, drive safely.
Dr. Christopher H. Singh runs Trans Canada Chiropractic at the 230 Truck Stop in Woodstock, Ont. He can be reached at 519-421-2024.