Glaucoma is a condition that affects more than 400,000 Canadians and is one of the leading causes of vision loss. There are many different types of glaucoma and they’re all defined by the damage done to the optic nerve. It can start off fairly slowly and worsens over time. It is important to be tested regularly by your eye care professional because early detection is key to preventing too much permanent damage. Here is what you need to know about glaucoma in more detail.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve at the back of your eye which functions to send visual information from your eye to your brain. While scientists aren’t sure what causes many types of glaucoma, damage to the optic nerve is often related to high eye pressure, which can lead to vision loss. The different types of glaucoma include: 

  • Primary open-angle: The most common form of glaucoma in Canadians. Insufficient fluid drainage increases the pressure on the optic nerve, which leads to eventual damage.
  • Angle-closure: Angle-closure glaucoma occurs when drainage in the eye is blocked. It is typically characterized by a sudden onset of intense symptoms and is considered a medical emergency.
  • Normal tension: Eye pressure remains normal under this form of glaucoma, but damage to the optic nerve is still present. 
  • Secondary: Secondary glaucoma occurs as the result of conditions such as injury, inflammation, or advanced cases of diabetes. 


There are many different types of glaucoma, and many of these can occur without any symptoms, which is why it is imperative you see your eye doctor regularly to be tested. Experiencing increased vision loss could be a sign of glaucoma, which can usually start in your peripheral vision. 

Open-angle glaucoma often shows no symptoms in its early stages. However, you may notice blind spots in your peripheral vision. Over time, your central vision may become blurry.

Normal-tension glaucoma also often shows no signs early on and is characterized by gradual blurred vision and loss of peripheral vision in later stages.

Acute angle-closure glaucoma can have strong onset symptoms, including headaches, blurred vision, severe eye pain, red eyes, and nausea. If you are experiencing these symptoms, go to your eye doctor or emergency room immediately. When left untreated, angle-closure glaucoma can cause blindness within days. 

Who is at risk?

Everyone has a risk of getting glaucoma, however, some have higher chances than others. You have increased chances of getting glaucoma if you:

  • Are 60 years or older
  • Have a family history of glaucoma
  • Are nearsighted
  • Have certain medical conditions like diabetes, high or low blood pressure, or heart disease
  • Experienced physical injuries to the eye
  • Use corticosteroids for prolonged periods of time


You cannot exactly prevent getting glaucoma as there are many risk factors, but you can minimize your chances. To lower your chances of getting glaucoma:

  • Visit your eye care professional on a regular basis to be tested.
  • Try to protect your eyes from infection and injuries by washing your hands and wearing protective eyewear when using power tools or playing sports. If you have high blood pressure or diabetes, make sure you’re keeping it well-managed
  • Know your family’s eye health history so you can undergo more frequent screening


Your eye doctor will check your eyes for glaucoma with a series of tests. The most common test to check for glaucoma is a non-contact tonometer (NCT). The NCT test involves a puff of air directed toward your eye, which measures the eye’s internal pressure. Your optometrist may manually examine your eyes to look for the health of your retina and optic nerve, while also inspecting your drainage angle.


Although there is no cure for glaucoma, it can be treated to prevent more damage. Your eye doctor may prescribe you eye drops to help relieve some of the pressure. However, if your case is severe or the eye drops are not working, your optometrist may recommend laser surgery to drain fluid from your eye and lower the pressure. Treatment can’t undo the damage, but it can maintain your vision and stop glaucoma from worsening.

Understanding glaucoma and its signs can help you take measures to catch it in its early stages. At Laurier Optical, we care about your eye health. Our optometrists are well-versed in screening procedures and can walk you through prevention and treatment. Contact us or book an eye exam today so we can make your vision a priority.