What is Glaucoma?

a Guide to understanding Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that most often present as vision impairment from abnormally high pressure in one or both eyes. The result of this can be damage to the optic nerve. This damage can cause vision impairment, and particularly, if left untreated, can lead to blindness. Glaucoma is the most common cause of blindness in people over 60.

Smiling elderly lady drinking coffee on a patio outside her home

Table of Contents


Types of Glaucoma


Causes of Glaucoma


Symptoms of Glaucoma


Diagnosis of Glaucoma


Treatment for Glaucoma


What Vision Loss from Glaucoma Looks like (Image)


Coping with the Affects of Glaucoma


About Glaucoma and Emotional Well-being


Closing Thoughts

Categories of Glaucoma

What ar the Primary Types of Glaucoma?

Open-Angle Glaucoma

  • Open-angle glaucoma is the most common type in the USA and Canada.
  • It affects both eyes.
  • Vision may degrade gradually, so it often goes without notice.

Angle Closure Glaucoma

  • Closed-angle glaucoma is a less prevalent variation.
  • By nature, it affects each eye independently.
  • Can occur over time, or suddenly.
  • This form of glaucoma is a medical emergency.

What Causes Glaucoma?

The root cause of glaucoma is unknown. What is known is that increased pressure in the eye called intraocular pressure can cause damage to the optic nerve. This damage causes blind spots in your vision. Eye injury, as well as eye surgery, can also bring about glaucoma. Additionally, some medications used to treat other diseases can lead to glaucoma.


What are the Symptoms of Glaucoma?

Usually, the only symptom noticed by a person with glaucoma is a degradation of vision. The effect of vision loss is generally less gradual than the rate the condition progresses. This is because the brain compensates by giving increased priority to the lesser affected eye. Due to this, often peripheral vision loss is noticed first.

Glaucoma symptoms such as blurred vision can be mild and temporary. The more severe symptoms can include prolonged blurred vision, pain in and around the eye, coloured halos, redness of the eyes, a sick stomach and vomiting. For a person born with glaucoma, the congenital symptoms generally include sensitivity to light, watery eyes, squinting, and rubbing of the eyes. An infant may seek to keep their eyes closed most of the time.


How is Glaucoma Diagnosed?

Your optometrist can screen for signs of glaucoma. Certified optometrists can also diagnose and manage treatment. At Eye Expressions Optical & Optometry, we work on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes we will partner with an Ophthalmologist if we feel specialized care is the best route. These are tests that Dr. Jade & Dr. Sarah, or the referred Ophthalmologist may perform: 

  • Tonometry (eye pressure)
  • Pupil Dilation
  • Visual Acuity Assessment
  • Ophthalmoscopy
  • Pachymetry (corneal thickness)
  • Gonioscopy
  • Optic Nerve Imaging

What is the Treatment for Glaucoma?

Although there is currently no cure for glaucoma, there are a variety of things that one can do in the treatment of glaucoma:

  • The primary focus is to lower your eye pressure and minimize the optic nerve’s progressive damage
  • There are prescription eye drops that can help manage glaucoma
  • Oral medication
  • Laser treatment
  • Surgery
  • Regular checkups with your eye doctor are essential

The best treatments for our patients’ needs are assessed by our doctors in clinic and potentially by an ophthalmologist. Most often, a combination of these treatments is recommended.

What Normal Vision Looks Like
Normal vision
Vision after Impairment from Open Angle Glaucoma
Vision affected by open angle glaucoma
Coping and Mangement

How can a Person with Vision Loss from Glaucoma Cope with Everyday Tasks?

In most cases, glaucoma can be managed effectively, and quality of life can remain much the same. For those who experience vision impairment, The use of a variety of low vision aides can help. Here are some tips on how to simplify day-to-day tasks:


  • Get a large numeral cooking timer
  • Labelled or colour coded kitchen appliances
  • A raised marking for measuring spoons and measuring cups

Household Chores

  • Large print marked appliances
  • Light switch plates that contrast wall colour

Lighting Management

  • Set up direct light for reading
  • Easy to adjust window blinds
  • Motion lighting for hallways and stairs for safety and convenience

If possible, invest in automated window blinds. They can be programmed to close at night for privacy and automatically open in the morning to let in sunshine. For someone who has moderate to severe vision impairment, this can help maintain their circadian rhythm for more comfortable living.


  • Raised marking, large print, and colour coding for bottles
  • Weekly pill organizer with or large print or raised lettering

Home Safety

  • Replacement or removal of worn carpets and area rugs
  • A clear path and walkway
  • Handrails wherever helpful

Managing Bills

  • Large numeric calculators
  • Bold lined paper
  • Sufficient desk lighting

Using Computers

Personal Care

  • Labels on all water faucets
  • Label sink and bath water levels
  • Large numeral clock or watch
  • Large telephone keypad
  • A reliable support network of people
  • Keep your eyeglass prescription current with your eye condition.
  • Seek counselling, rehabilitation, and training to help you navigate your work and daily life.
  • Have an organized structure for transportation. Consider using a taxi, public transit, or having family or friends share time to get you from ‘A’ to ‘B’.


Coping and Mangement

Glaucoma and Your Emotional Health

  • A solid foundation of friends and family to support a person who is managing vision impairment can really help emotionally.
  • Consider seeking personal counselling such as an occupational therapist or a support group.

How can an Occupational Therapist Help Someone with Vision Loss from Glaucoma?

An occupational therapist is a health and rehabilitation professional who may help a person with vision impairment retain an independent lifestyle. They are trained to inspire a person to rebuild and develop new skills in navigation through daily life. These professionals can provide you with the tools and training you need to adapt to a life of reduced vision.


Closing Thoughts on Glaucoma Diagnosis and Management

According to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), over 294.000 people manage vision loss from Glaucoma. If you have mild, moderate or severe loss of vision from glaucoma, you are not alone. Seek out help from your family & friends, and please don’t hesitate to book an appointment with Dr. Jade or Dr. Sarah. We are delighted to offer guidance to help you or a loved one with the effects of glaucoma.