Three million North Americans suffer from glaucoma, the second leading cause of blindness in North America.
Glaucoma has been called the “sneak thief of sight” as half the people with this disease do not know they have it.
Now Dr. Patrick Quaid, Head of the Guelph Vision Therapy Centre, says that physicians treating hypertension must be cautious that blood pressure doesn’t get too low.
Fluid is continually forced into the eye to nourish the lens and other structures.
It normally dribbles out of the eye at a controlled rate through a narrow channel, but with increasing age the control valve of this channel has an increased chance of becoming plugged.
This increases the pressure within the eyeball, squeezes blood vessels, and decreases nutrition to the retina and optic nerve.
Increased pressure initially damages peripheral vision causing the optic nerve to send smaller and smaller images to the brain.
Eventually all peripheral vision is lost leaving patients with “tunnel vision”.
Patients now see things as if they were looking through a telescope.
If treatment is still delayed, central vision will also be destroyed.
90 percent of glaucoma is due to the chronic type.
A few patients have warning symptoms such as seeing coloured rings around lights, difficulty adjusting to darkened rooms, blurring of vision or failure of new glasses to improve vision.
But unfortunately, most people remain unaware of glaucoma’s presence. And it’s possible to go blind in one eye before glaucoma is diagnosed.
10 percent of victims are struck by acute glaucoma.
It’s a major emergency and left untreated can destroy sight within 24 hours. Fortunately this is rare, but it is painful.
Chronic glaucoma is usually painless, hence the term “silent thief of sight”.
Some people in this category make a bad error.
They believe the intense pain, blurring of vision and redness is due to conjunctivitis (red eye), but severe pain and visual changes are not present in this commonly called “pink eye”…….