Ray Charles—-The great Ray Charles, singer/songwriter had lost his vision to congenital glaucoma
Special eye pressure testing called Goldman Tonometry
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.