Five Crucial Facts About Glaucoma

In a New York Times interview with Dr. Stuart McKinnon, associate professor of ophthalmology and neurobiology at the Duke University School of Medicine, Dr. McKinnon presented five crucial facts about glaucoma.

Irreversible damage to the optic nerve of the eye occurs long before symptoms are detected.  This means it’s vital to have regular eye exams to catch glaucoma as soon as possible to minimize vision loss.

Although increased inter-ocular pressure (IOP) is a danger sign, it doesn’t always mean you’ll develop glaucoma.  Several studies link elevated intraocular pressure with progressive vision loss, but the risk varies widely among individuals.

African-Americans have a higher risk of glaucoma.  Research has shown that African-Americans are 3 to 6 times more likely than whites to develop glaucoma, and that glaucoma appears about 10 years earlier and progresses more rapidly in blacks than whites.  Recent studies also show that Hispanics may also be at higher risk, as well as people whose immediate family members have glaucoma.  Those with increased risk of glaucoma should start eye screenings around age 40; by age 60, everyone should be screened periodically for glaucoma.

Regular monitoring is vital if you have glaucoma or early signs of it.   Glaucoma is a progressive disease, and even patients who are being treated may continue to lose vision over time unless being carefully monitored and treated.

Following treatment recommendations carefully can help spare your vision.  A wide range of glaucoma treatments are available, but these treatments (such as daily eye drops) won’t help unless actually used according to instructions.

SOURCE:  The Importance of Daily Glaucoma Treatment, New York Times, July 15, 2009,