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Thursday January 15, 6:01 am Eastern Time

Company Press Release

SOURCE: Laser Diagnostic Technologies

Are You at Risk for Glaucoma? Get the Facts

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month

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

    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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