YOUR HEALTH: Glaucoma: ‘The silent thief of sight’

Dr. Adam Reid


Glaucoma, which can strike at any age without warning, is one of the leading causes of blindness in Canada.

Usually caused by an elevation of pressure within the eye, glaucoma can damage the optic nerve and lead to permanent loss of peripheral vision.

Symptoms: The most common form of glaucoma usually presents no symptoms until significant peripheral vision is lost, earning glaucoma the nickname “the silent thief of sight.” A less common form of the disease causes a sudden rise in pressure within the eye, which can cause pain, blurred vision and halos around lights. Left untreated, both forms can lead to complete loss of peripheral vision.

Prevention: Though there’s no way to prevent glaucoma, early detection can help prevent damage from the disease.

That’s why regular eye exams are so important, even if your vision seems fine.

Detection: Your optometrist will conduct a comprehensive eye exam, check the pressure in your eye and evaluate the health of your optic nerve.

If any concerns exist, he or she may conduct further tests such as a visual field test, which measures the sensitivity of your peripheral vision and can detect subtle losses long before you’d notice them.

Treatment: If glaucoma is detected and treated early by your BC Doctor of Optometry, permanent vision loss can usually be avoided.

Treatment options can range from daily eye drops to surgery for more advanced cases.

Risk Factors: Anyone can develop glaucoma, but the risk increases with age. People with diabetes, extreme nearsightedness or farsightedness, previous eye surgery, a family history of glaucoma and people of African descent are at higher risk to develop the disease.

If you’re over 60 or fall into any of the above categories, be sure to visit your optometrist every year. For more detailed information about glaucoma, visit


Dr. Adam Reid is an optometrist with Mosaic Vision Care in Courtenay. To make an appointment, call 250-334-4512 or visit

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