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SAN DIEGO, Jan. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- It's called the ``silent thief of sight,'' gradually and often painlessly robbing its victims of one of the most treasured senses.
It's called glaucoma, and it can be stopped.
Glaucoma is the leading cause of preventable blindness in the United States today. In fact, more than 66 million people around the world will have glaucoma by the year 2000. But many people who suffer from early chronic glaucoma are not aware that their eyesight is in danger. Glaucoma strikes by irreparably damaging the nerve fiber layer, the transparent tissue covering the back of the eye, forming the optic nerve, which transmits visual messages to the brain. When damaged, the result is vision loss.
By measuring the thickness of the nerve fiber layer, eye care practitioners can objectively and quantitatively determine early on whether structural damage has been done to the eye, before patients lose their sight.
Contrary to what some believe, a person will not necessarily experience pain or noticeable vision loss at the onset of glaucoma (for additional myths, see below) and glaucoma is not always tested during eye exams.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends regular glaucoma exams for everyone at least every 3-5 years, those over age 40 should be tested every 2-4 years, those 65 and older should be tested every 1-2 years. Detection and treatment are the only way to prevent vision impairment and blindness, and new and improved technology is available today to detect the disease early on.
Those at risk for glaucoma include anyone over age 40 (especially those who do not have regular eye examinations), those with a family history of glaucoma, people of African decent (particularly those over age 35), those with other diseases such as diabetes myopia (nearsighted), or high blood pressure, and those with a history of elevated intraocular pressure.
In many areas of the nation, patients are now starting to be tested on the GDx(TM) Nerve Fiber Analyzer developed by San Diego-based Laser Diagnostic Technologies (LDT). Founded in 1991, LDT is a scanning laser company dedicated to the research, development and marketing of innovative technologies for ophthalmic applications. Diagnostic instruments developed by LDT for eye care include the GDx(TM) Nerve Fiber Analyzer, which is fast (taking less than 3 minutes to administer an exam of both eyes), comfortable and doesn't require any drops.
Don't be Blind-Sighted by Glaucoma
By the year 2000, there will be 66.8 million people worldwide with glaucoma. Don't fall for the myths, get the facts.
MYTHS FACTS 1. Glaucoma doesn't cause Glaucoma is the second leading cause blindness. of irreversible blindness in the U.S. 2. If my vision is okay, Glaucoma does not affect your vision I don't have glaucoma. until the very late stages of the disease. Glaucoma affects your peripheral vision first, so your ability to read an eye chart will not be affected. 3. My eyes would hurt or feel The most common type of glaucoma, different if I had glaucoma. primary open-angle glaucoma, does not cause any pain or discomfort. The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) estimates that over half of the people in the United States that have glaucoma are not aware of it. 4. If I'm not older than The AAO recommends regular glaucoma 65 years, I don't have to exams for everyone at least every worry about glaucoma. 3-5 years. The incidence of glaucoma rises in those over 40, so those over 40 should be tested every 2-4 years. Over the age of 65, you should be tested every 1-2 years. 5. If I have been checked for A routine exam for glasses does not glasses recently, I have always include a glaucoma test. been checked for glaucoma. 6. My doctor said, "my High pressure is just one risk factor pressures are normal," so for glaucoma. Nearly 25% of people with I don't have glaucoma. glaucoma do not have high pressures. 7. I have been checked for Glaucoma can develop at any time and glaucoma once, so I don't the incidence of the disease does have to be checked again. increase with age. Routine eye exams are the only way to be sure. 8. The air puff test is The air puff checks pressure, which good enough to tell if is only one risk factor for glaucoma. I have glaucoma. The air puff test alone is not enough to detect glaucoma accurately. 9. Glaucoma can be prevented Although good diet and exercise are with proper diet and always a good idea, there is no way to exercise. prevent glaucoma. 10. Glaucoma requires Glaucoma cannot be cured but can surgery to be cured. often be controlled with the use of medication (eye drops). Early detection can prevent the disease from progressing to a point where surgery is necessary.
At your next eye exam, ask your doctor for a glaucoma evaluation, including an assessment of the nerve fiber layer. For more information, call Susan Bitar, 916-554-3400.
SOURCE: Laser Diagnostic Technologies
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