World glaucoma week: 71% of Canadians expect an early warning symptom from glaucoma, putting eye health at serious risk

Dr. Darren Singh, OD, performing an eye exam
Dr. Darren Singh, OD, performing an eye exam

Commonly referred to as the “silent thief of sight”, glaucoma is asymptomatic in most cases and by the time the condition is noticed, the vision loss is irreversible. Despite being relatively asymptomatic as it progresses, a recent Specsavers survey, conducted by Leger, shows the majority of Canadians (71%) expect at least one early warning symptom of glaucoma, a condition that impacts the optic nerve and results in vision loss if left untreated.  

“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.” said Naomi Barber, Director of Optometry at Specsavers.  

Canadians who require corrective glasses often have an eye exam to update their prescription, however, many Canadians are not getting their eyes checked regularly, if at all.  Another Specsavers survey, conducted by Leger in 2022, showed that 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 not had an eye exam at all in their lifetime. 

It’s estimated that glaucoma currently impacts more than 728,000 Canadians who have been diagnosed.1However, it’s widely reported that many people with the condition do not know they have it. Early diagnosis, careful monitoring, and regular treatment can help many Canadians retain their sight for life. 

At Specsavers, all patients receive an advanced 3D eye scan – optical coherence tomography (OCT) – as part of the standard eye exam. 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.   

“The 3D eye scan only takes a few seconds and enables optometrists to assess the intricate structures of the eyes to detect conditions such as glaucoma and diabetes,” said Naomi Barber, Director of Optometry, Specsavers. “Accessibility to this technology for all patients who visit a Specsavers location allows optometrists to diagnose glaucoma before patients experience noticeable symptoms of vision loss.” 

OCT works by taking a series of scans of the back of the eye that form a detailed 3D image of important structures in the eye, such as the optic nerve, retina and macula. These 3D scans help optometrists spot any abnormalities and identify eye diseases in their earliest stages. 

These detailed 3D scans are also a useful tool in closely monitoring your eye health over time. This is particularly important for patients who have risk factors for eye conditions, or a history of eye disease in their family. 

Leger Survey Commissioned by Specsavers 

“Which of the following would you expect to the be early symptoms of Glaucoma?”:  

  • Any (NET): 71% 
  • Blurred or worsened vision: 54% 
  • Loss of side vision or blind spot: 38% 
  • Feeling of eye pressure: 34% 
  • Eye pain: 27% 
  • Headaches: 24% 
  • Eye redness: 13% 
  • No early symptoms: 7% 
  • I don’t know: 22%  

Methodology: An online survey of 1,536 Canadians, 18+, completed between January 6 and January 9, 2023, using Leger’s online panel. No margin of error can be associated with a non-probability sample (i.e. a web panel in this case). For comparative purposes, though, a probability sample of 1,536 respondents would have a margin of error of ±2.5%, 19 times out of 20. 

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