Diagnosing Glaucoma

Dr. Steven Schendel, MD, FRSC (C), Ophthalmologist discusses glaucoma and how it is treated.

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Dr. Steven Schendel, MD, FRSC (C), Ophthalmologist discusses glaucoma and how it is treated.
Video transcript

Featuring Dr. Steven Schendel, MD, FRSC (C), Ophthalmologist

Duration: 2 minutes, 28 seconds

Glaucoma is a potentially blinding disease that is characterized by progressive damage to the optic nerve of the eye.

Now the optic nerve is like a cable that brings information the eye sees about the world and brings it to the brain, and when there’s damaging glaucoma, patients often first lose a bit of their peripheral vision, and as it progresses they can eventually lose their central vision.

So it’s a big problem because people don’t know that they’re affected. There are lots of different risk factors for glaucoma: increasing age, race, also increased intraocular pressure in the eye, family history can be important, as well as certain refractive areas of the eye.

So, all of these things are important when we’re assessing somebody with glaucoma or to check if they have glaucoma.

Patients are often referred to see an ophthalmologist regarding glaucoma for a number of reasons. They might have a nerve at the back of the eye that looks very suspicious for glaucoma.

An eye care professional might have read that they had a very high pressure inside the eye, which is a risk factor for glaucoma, or there might have been a screening test done that indicates they’re missing part of their peripheral vision, and that might have them sent in to see an ophthalmologist for assessment.

So those aren’t things that people often perceive. They are often aware they have a problem. They might come and see somebody and say you know I’m not even sure why I’m here, but it’s important that if those things are noted they follow-up on those appointments and we can ensure that they don’t have any damage from this disease.

If you’ve been diagnosed with glaucoma or somebody tells you you look suspicious for glaucoma, the most important thing you can do is continue to maintain your appointments with your eye care professional.

The likelihood of losing significant vision is greatly diminished if you keep those appointments are able to be seen regularly. It’s also important to keep using any therapies that have been prescribed for you and make sure you don’t run out of medications and that might involve ensuring that your drops are being renewed appropriately, that you’re being seen on regular intervals, and that can be very helpful.

It’s important to remember that all of these treatments can treat glaucoma although none of them cure glaucoma, and so it’s not enough to simply take the drops and never see somebody again.

It’s important to be seen regularly. Glaucoma is a potentially blinding but treatable disease, so if for whatever reason you suspect you might have glaucoma, or you have a family history of glaucoma, it’s reasonable to see your GP or optometrist to be referred to see an ophthalmologist.

Presenter: Dr. Steven Schendel, Ophthalmologist, Vancouver, BC

Local Practitioners: Ophthalmologist

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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