Its estimated that about four million people in the United States have glaucoma, a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve and silently destroy eyesight. Nearly half of those with glaucoma are not even aware that they have it. So what about you? The number of cases that lose vision is unfortunate considering there are some high technology offices like Facchiano & Associates who maintain eye care offices with technology that can detect early signs of glaucoma long before that damage threatens vision. You owe it to yourself to find out your relative risk of lossing vision to glaucoma by getting a comprehensive dilated eye exam that includes having drops put in your eye and if the eye doctor orders extra diagnostics tests, an OCT optic nerve scan and threashold visual fields. With its painless and gradual loss of vision, glaucoma may have no early warning signs, but it can be detected during a comprehensive dilated eye exam.
Paul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Eye Institute (NEI), one of the National Institutes of Health, said, “NEI-funded research has shown that treatment during the early stages of glaucoma can control the disease and prevent future vision loss and blindness. This is why NEI encourages people at higher risk for glaucoma to get a comprehensive dilated eye exam every one to two years.”
Anyone can develop glaucoma, but those at higher risk for developing the disease include:
African Americans over age 40
Everyone over age 60, especially Mexican Americans
People with a family history of the disease
During a comprehensive dilated eye exam, an eye care professional can see inside the eye to detect signs of glaucoma, such as subtle changes to the optic nerve, before any symptoms appear. This allows the eye care professional to determine if you have glaucoma or are at risk for it, to monitor your condition, to treat glaucoma as early as possible, and to look for other vision problems. Once symptoms appear, it may be too late to prevent vision loss and the progression to blindness.
If glaucoma is detected early, treatments such as eye drops or surgery can slow or stop vision loss. High pressure inside the eye, which may be associated with glaucoma, does not by itself mean that you have glaucoma. Only a comprehensive dilated eye exam and evaluation of the optic nerve by an eye care professional can tell you that.
If you know someone at risk for glaucoma, let them know you care – schedule an eye exam with your eye care professional today.
Tto your eye health,
Dr Vince Facchiano
Annaul eye exams are your best defense against glaucoma. Nearly 4 million Americans and 70 million people worldwide are losing their sight to glaucoma, and many of them are not even aware they have the disease, which has no symptoms as it silently steals sight. Glaucoma causes damage to the optic nerve and vision loss begins with peripheral vision. Here are some of insights on risk factors and treatment for the disease as we wrap up Glaucoma Awareness Month from our Doctors of Optometry.
Here are some risk factors for the disease:
Elevated intraocular pressure ( pressures over 22-25 are considered high but may not indicate glaucoma alone)
Age (those over 40 have a higher risk)
Ethnic background (persons of African descent are five times more likely to develop glaucoma) Hispanics have a higher predilection also.
Other medical conditions (diabetes, hypertension, and other vascular disorders)
Family history (particularly maternal family members)
Patients with myopia ( nearsightedness)
There are no presenting symptoms of the most common form of glaucoma — primary open angle glaucoma,” Dr Facchiano indicated. “That’s why an annual eye exam is so important
There is no cure for glaucoma. Currently, glaucoma is usually treated pharmacologically through eye drops, . Other methods like laser and/or surgical treatments may be implemented if the eye drops are not effective. Each treatment is designed to reduce eye pressure and the resulting damage to the optic nerve.
Eye pressure testing is required by most states but that is not the only test needed to evaluate an eyes relative risk of loosing vision to glaucoma. Now more is known about diagnosis and new technologies have emerged that are essential in the diagnoses. In addition to eye pressures other tests are essential to correctly diagnos and treat glaucoma. These include images of the optic nerve over time and corneal thickness measurements. Also gonioscopy is a special test that views the angle anatomy dictating the eye fluid drainage of the eye. Very important to note is that loss of visual field is not noticed by patients. So unless a very sensitive threshold visual field analysis tests for subtle reduction and blind spots in the field of vision are preformed no one will know you have a loss until the disease is very advanced. Finally eye pressures are in flux throughout the day so eye pressures measured at different times of day are often required.
Such tests take time and extra technology and are offered in addition to the standard eye exam. Major medical insurance often covers such testing for a glaucoma suspect patient. No one at risk should deny themselves the full panel of diagnostic tests. Yet few receive this level of care because much of the public still considers eye pressure checks as all they need. The fact is more than half of glaucoma cases have normal pressures of 15-20 at the time of their eye examination.
At Dr Facchiano’s office very sensitive and specific laser image tests are preformed on patients who are at risk. These tests aide the optometrist or your eye care provider in determining a relative risk of vision loss due to glaucoma and can result in early detection before loss of vision. Since most who suffer from glaucoma have the open angle glaucoma type, changes that do occur will do so slowly at a rate estimated about 3% each year. Such early changes in the optic nerve are impossible to detect visually until the disease is well established and visual damage is measurable. Yet such subtle changes that escape the human eye can be measured 5-8 years in advance of visual field loss with the new laser imaging tests called OCT, GDX-VCC or HRT-III laser scans . These sensitive tests give optometrists, or your eye care provider ,advanced notice of optic nerve change over time and that will indicate relative risk for glaucoma damage that allow timely medical intervention before vision is lost if necessary. Eminent loss of vision is determined through reduction in nerve fiber layer thickness and ganglion cell complex long before vision is lost.
This is one more reason that patients should take their eye care seriously and it is important to get a through annual eye exam from providers that specialize in complete eye care. For those who know they are at risk be sure to insist on a full evaluation that includes new image tests or ask to be referred for such testing.
At Dr’s Facchiano & Associates we take the matter seriously and have the latest in technology to diagnose and treat glaucoma. Our web page has a number of great informational links about glaucoma. Please find Glaucoma Research info @ http://www.glaucoma.org/ and from All About Vision @ http://www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/glaucoma.htm.
Every one fears the loss of vision. That news is worse when a patient learns they have a loss that is now beyond treatment. So now is the time to schedule your annual eye exam. The chief reason for vision loss among those 65 and older is macular disease and early detection is the key to treatment. Those patients concerned about central vision loss or have a family history of central vision loss should ask for your central vision to be tested and evaluated with special diagnostic tests. You should know many tests can be included to specifically test the health of our central vision outside the normal eye chart. Technology now exists to detect minor changes in your central vision long before there is significant damage if tested in time. Such special tests may include OCT images, threshold visual fields , ophthalmoscopy, fundus autofluorescence images and genetic testing . Make sure the Dr you choose has the access to these tests and please get a through retina analysis.
Age-related Macular Degeneration, is predominantly an inherited disease. Our clinic now offers a Macula Risk , a prognostic DNA test that identifies individuals who have inherited any of the disease-causing genes. These individuals are at increased risk of vision loss as they age. Macula Risk is a laboratory developed test (LDT) to assess the risk of AMD progression from early or intermediate AMD to advanced AMD, a common eye disorder of the elderly that can lead to blindness. Macula Risk identifies individuals (1 in every 5 patients) that are at highest risk of vision loss due to AMD. Identifying these patients early allows the eye-care professional to implement a disease management strategy focused on sight preservation. Increased risk (Macula Risk® Level 3, 4 and 5) patients may benefit from: •Increased frequency of eye examinations •Disease education and possibly ‘at-home’ Amsler Grid or Home PHP testing •Preventative eye vitamin therapy and possibly nutritional supplements •Early diagnosis and treatment of wet AMD with effective therapies . So to learn more about what your risk is consult your doctor of optometry and ask is gentic testing is indicated in your case. Not all office have added this testing but we can help you locate a provder in your area in the USA or Canada s0 just call our office with that request.
For more information on Macular Risk see related articles on macular disease and prevention. (http://www.maculardegenerationassociation.org/ )
Please make sure to get your eyes checked each year. We offer eye exams in Rockford IL and in Madison WI specifically for macular disease.
To your eye health,
Dr Vincent Facchano
Do you really know what sorts of toys are the safest and the most beneficial for kids?