Catching the Eye Thief
Rage against the Dying Light
Glaucoma prevention and treatment is about seizing the thief of sight in its tracks. Blindness prevention is the essence of every glaucoma treatment- both for suspected and diagnosed cases. And if caught in its early stages, there is a higher chance that blindness and visual disability will be prevented. Optic nerve damage is estimated to increase 13 fold with rises in IOP in the 22-29 mm Hg range, and as much as 40 fold in extremely high pressures of 40 mmHg or more . Hence aggressive IOP lowering is the focus of every glaucoma specialist, whether through medical or surgical means. In one study alone, it showed that those who were able to maintain a 12-18 mmHg IOP range during the course of follow-up did not show progression of glaucoma in terms of visual impairment or loss.
A glaucoma specialist’s decision to start treatment, however, may not depend solely on the presence of elevated intraocular pressures. This is especially true among the 20-30% of documented open-angle glaucoma cases who have normal intraocular pressures of (10-21mgHg) despite obvious optic nerve damage on examination. Even when the initial intraocular pressures are normal the treatment is the same: lower the eye pressure further.
Some individuals are at a greater risk of developing glaucoma. Such risks include:
- Age greater than 40
- African Americans and Hispanics
- Family history of glaucoma
- Medical history of migraine, diabetes and systemic hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Myopia (near-sightedness)
- Thin corneas
Genetically predisposed and high risk individuals for glaucoma warrant early glaucoma prevention through regular diagnostic eye evaluations from an ophthalmologist (or in really high risk persons, a glaucoma specialist). Since advancing age is one of the common risk factors for glaucoma, it is advised that
- Adults in their 40’s should have their eyes checked every 2-4 years.
- Adults in their 60’s should do so every 1-2 years.
- African Americans and Hispanics may show signs of glaucoma as early as their 20’s to early 30’s and are recommended to have their eyes tested every 2-3 years.
With modern advances in medical, surgical and less invasive procedures like canaloplasty, there is no reason for a glaucoma patient to be left in the dark. If you have glaucoma or know someone who is at risk, seek the advice of a skilled ophthalmologist. Board certified and experienced ophthalmologist such as Dr David Richardson can guide you through your journey – from diagnosis to planning a specific treatment unique to your needs. A consultation or a call today could save a lifetime of sight.
1) Jody R. Piltz-Seymour & Rebecca S. Walker. When to Treat Glaucoma