Glaucoma – The Silent Thief

Written By: | February 28, 2011

One of my patients asked me how he could tell that he was developing glaucoma.  He expected that I would say eye pain or redness.  He was partly correct, as certain types of acute(or angle-closure) glaucoma cause severe eye pain.  However, the typical (or open-angle) glaucoma that affects 2 – 4 million Americans does not cause eye pain or redness.  One cannot “feel” glaucoma and one does not usually notice any visual problems until very late in the disease process.

Glaucoma is generally characterized by higher internal or intra-ocular eye pressures, damage to ocular nerve tissue or the optic nerve, and side vision or peripheral field of vision loss.  If untreated, it ultimately results in blindness.  The diagnosis of glaucoma requires a detailed eye exam.  For this reason, eye exams for “healthy” individuals who don’t even require glasses is recommended on an annual basis…to help catch this “silent thief.”  Screening for glaucoma can be done through microscope examination of the back of the eye, measuring of the intraocular pressure (such as with the “puff test”), laser scans of optic nerve dimensions, and automated peripheral field tests.

These state-of-art diagnostic equipment are available at Pepose Vision Institute for glaucoma diagnosis, including the Ocular Response Analyzer, Pascal Tonometer, Optic Nerve Fiber Analysis, and advanced visual field testing.  So if you would like to be evaluated to determine if you are at risk for developing glaucoma, particularly if someone in your family has glaucoma, then please contact us at 636-728-0111.  Other glaucoma risk factors include African-American or Hispanic race, older age, nearsightedness, previous eye injuries, steroid use, and diabetes.


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