Glaucoma, commonly referred to as the "silent thief of sight", is a condition that affects the optic nerve and can result in irreversible vision loss if left untreated. It's estimated that over 728,000 Canadians have been diagnosed with glaucoma, but many people with the condition do not know they have it.
A recent survey conducted by Specsavers, an optometrist-owned and -led business that entered the Canadian market in late 2021, and Leger shows that 71% of Canadians expect at least one early warning symptom of glaucoma, despite the condition being asymptomatic in most cases.
Naomi Barber, Director of Optometry at Specsavers, emphasizes the importance of regular visits to an optometrist and early detection through 3D eye scans for the treatment and ongoing monitoring of glaucoma. "Regular visits to an optometrist and early detection through 3D eye scans are crucial for treatment and ongoing monitoring of glaucoma.
“Many vision-threatening eye conditions, including glaucoma, progress to advanced stages without symptoms, while vision loss is preventable if caught early."
The survey also shows that many Canadians are not getting their eyes checked regularly, if at all.
1 in 4 Canadians who do not wear corrective glasses have not had an eye exam in over 10 years.
1 in 4 Canadians who do not wear corrective glasses have not had an eye exam in over 10 years, and 10% of this group have never had an eye exam. These findings are concerning, as early diagnosis, careful monitoring, and regular treatment can help many Canadians retain their sight for life.
To help early detection of glaucoma, optical coherence tomography (OCT) testing is recommended. OCT helps optometrists see what is going on beneath the surface of the eye and can detect potentially sight-threatening conditions such as diabetes, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration. These 3D scans are a useful tool in closely monitoring eye health over time, particularly for patients who have risk factors for eye conditions or a history of eye disease in their family.
The Leger survey also asked Canadians about the early symptoms of glaucoma.
While 71% of respondents expected at least one early warning symptom, only 54% listed blurred or worsened vision, and even fewer listed other symptoms such as loss of side vision or blind spot, feeling of eye pressure, or eye pain. 7% of respondents did not expect any early symptoms, and 22% did not know.
Overall, the survey highlights the importance of regular eye exams and early detection for the prevention of vision loss.