Glaucoma is a collective term referring to a group of eye diseases with one thing in common: progressive and irreversible damage to the optic nerve.
It robs you of your peripheral vision in a gradual but painless way so it’s important to have your eyes checked. Otherwise, you will not know you have it until in its more advanced stages, and by then it’s too late.
What are the symptoms?
Glaucoma is generally asymptomatic in its early stages. Your vision could be clear. You could feel no pain or eye strain. There is just a silent but gradual loss of vision that starts at the peripheries and progresses towards the center, like looking through a tube that slowly but constantly constricts until there is nothing to see.
In some cases of glaucoma, patients will complain of intolerable headaches, blurry vision, nausea, painful eyes, mid-dilated pupils. This is indicative of an acute angle-closure glaucoma that requires instant attention from an eye care professional.
According to Glaucoma Australia, the prevalence of glaucoma cited in two Australian population-based studies is 3%, which equates to approximately 300,000 people afflicted by this potentially blinding disease. Both studies found the glaucoma detection rate to be approximately 50%, similar to most first-world countries.
Certain risk factors increase the likelihood of you developing glaucoma.
Age: if you’re over 40, you’re more at risk of developing glaucoma
Family history: there’s a 2x increase in the risk of developing glaucoma if your parent has it and 4x if a sibling has it!
Past or present use of corticosteroid drugs or creams
If you suffer from migraines, chilblains, sleep apnoea or have had incidents where you’ve lost large amounts of blood
If you suffer from diabetes, thyroid dysfunction or cardiovascular problems
If you have had previous trauma to either the eye or head
An elevated eye pressure and thin cornea as measured by an optometrist
A glaucoma check is not as simple as just checking your eye pressure!
While most glaucoma cases are associated with elevated eye pressure, progressive nerve damage of glaucoma can happen in patients even without an increase in eye pressure.
Eyecare Plus practices have the latest diagnostic equipment you need to determine whether or not you have glaucoma–even before you manifest any symptoms.
Our optometrists will carry out important tests to determine your risk of developing glaucoma after a thorough ocular, family, medical history.
Our tests include:
- Intraocular pressure
- Digital retinal imaging (DRI)
- OCT (Optical Coherence Tomography)
- Visual Fields
Our optometrists will discuss glaucoma with you during a routine, comprehensive eye exam which may involve dilating eye drops. These drops allow for a better view of the retina and optic nerve head. However, we advise you not to drive within a of couple of hours after the drops have been put.
Once our optometrists determined you to be at risk of developing glaucoma, they design an appropriate management plan tailored to suit your individual needs. Our optometrists diagnose and will co-manage glaucoma conditions with your eye specialist.
Lower Your Risk of Glaucoma
- A healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise and a nutritious diet benefits overall physical and mental well-being, as well as the eyes. Eat a varied and healthy diet. There is no scientific evidence suggesting that certain vitamins and minerals prevent glaucoma or delay its progress. However, carotenoids (especially lutein and zeaxanthin), antioxidants (vitamins C and E), vitamins A and D, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids may all contribute to better vision.
- Carotenoids are found in dark green, yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, including spinach, broccoli, green beans, papaya, oranges, mango, sweet potato, corn, peaches and apricots.
- Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, tomatoes, strawberries, leafy greens, sweet and white potato, broccoli and capsicum.
- Vitamin A is found in liver, carrots, sweet potato, mangoes, milk and egg yolks.
- The main dietary sources of vitamin D are cod liver oil, ‘oily’ fish, fortified milk and cereal and egg yolks.
- Zinc can be found in oysters, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, wholegrains and dairy products.
- Omega-3 fatty acids are found in salmon, sardines, walnuts and flaxseed oil.