Glaucoma is a condition that occurs when the optic nerve becomes progressively damaged, causing permanent vision loss. It’s one of the leading causes of blindness, but can be prevented if detected early.
Having knowledge about glaucoma and seeing your optometrist regularly for comprehensive eye exams is one of the best ways to protect your eyes from glaucoma and other eye diseases. Listed below are five common myths surrounding glaucoma:
MYTH #1: Glaucoma has symptoms and can be detected before major vision loss occurs.
FACT: Glaucoma is often called the silent thief of sight because it shows no early symptoms. Most people will not notice any symptoms until the glaucoma is in the advanced stages and vision loss has occurred. Early detection is important and can be done during a comprehensive eye exam by an optometrist.
MYTH #2: Glaucoma only affects the elderly.
FACT: It is true that glaucoma is more commonly diagnosed in adults over the age of 60, however it can affect people of all ages, even newborns.
Glaucoma is often painless. Patients with glaucoma might not realize that they are slowly losing vision until the later stages of the disease. By the time vision impairment is noticeable, the damage is permanent. Get your eyes checked regularly.
MYTH #3: Glaucoma is curable.
FACT: Glaucoma cannot be cured, but it can be controlled. Eye drops, oral medication, laser therapy and eye surgery are the methods used to slow further damage from occurring. With any type of glaucoma, regular eye examinations are important. An optometrist can detect progression of the disease and help to prevent further vision loss.
MYTH #4: Vision loss as a result of glaucoma can be recovered.
FACT: The effects of glaucoma are unfortunately irreversible. Once vision loss has occurred because of glaucoma, it cannot be recovered.
MYTH #5: Glaucoma is solely an inherited disease.
FACT: It is true that certain forms of glaucoma are inherited, but there are many patients with glaucoma who have no family history of the eye disease. Many patients are also often not aware that family members are affected by glaucoma. Patients with glaucoma should share their diagnosis with their family members and encourage them to have a comprehensive eye exam with their local optometrist.
Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in Canada and can affect individuals of any age. If you have glaucoma or are at a risk of developing the disease, it is important to schedule an eye exam with your local optometrist. Early detection and treatment are essential to helping you preserve vision.