About 250,000 people in Canada have glaucoma and only half of them know it!

Did You Know?
Glaucoma is the second leading cause of vision loss in the world.

glaucomaGlaucoma is a set of diseases that are characterized by damage to the optic nerve, a nerve at the back of your eye that sends and transmits light signals to your brain. Fading of your peripheral visionusually occurs during the early onset of glaucoma. When left undiagnosed and untreated, glaucoma can lead to central vision loss and eventually blindness.

Anyone, from infants to adults, can get glaucoma, but the most well-known risk factor associated with the disease is an increased intraocular pressure (IOP). This is a pressure generated by a type of fluid in your eye known as aqueous humour. This augmentation in IOP magnifies the risk of glaucoma and hence treatment of glaucoma usually involves an attempt to reduce this pressure.

Common treatment includes eyes drops containingcarbonic anhydrase, a drug for decreasing aqueous humour production, and asurgical procedure known as trabeculectomywhich attempts to permit increased drainage of the aqueous humour.

Did You Know?
African Americans have been shown to posses the highest risk for glaucoma, meaningthat the disease may be hereditary.

The most common type of glaucoma in North America is pulmonary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), which occurs slowly and leads to progressive deterioration of the eye. It is sometimes known as the “silent thief of sight” because it is often left undiagnosed and untreated until the disease has progressed significantly.

POAG is characterized by the following: reduced flow in the trabecular meshwork (see image), damage to the optic nerve head (the front surface of the optic nerve), a depression of the optic nerve head, increased IOP, and an open anterior chamber angle (see image).

POAG is one of the most preventable causes of blindness but, in order to prevent it, people must go for yearly eye exams. If you begin to have peripheral vision loss, it is very important to visit your local optometrist or ophthalmologist immediately.

Learn More!

Medicine Net - What is Glaucoma?

Pub Med Health -Glaucoma

Glaucoma Research Foundation

Article first published October 6, 2011

Photo Credit: iStock

Ricky Cheng

I am currently a fourth year undergraduate student in the honors physiology specialization program at the University of Western Ontario. I enjoy playing multiple sports which primarily include soccer and basketball.  I am applying for medical school this upcoming year.

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