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Detecting Early Signs of Glaucoma

Did you know that September is Healthy Eye Aging Month? As we age our vision and eyes change and it is very important to continue with your annual comprehensive eye exam so Dr. Steve can perform tests to detect early signs of vision loss due to diseases such as glaucoma. Click here to watch a video on Glaucoma.

Glaucoma is a slow painless loss of vision resulting in loss of retinal and optic nerve tissue due to increased pressure within the eye. It actually smashes down the nerve endings and kills them. Routine eye examinations to check the pressure are especially important as this vision loss is very slow and usually takes out the peripheral vision first which patients often don’t notice. Also both eyes are usually affected but differently so when your brain superimposes the two different images into one image, the blind spots from glaucoma are hidden when the two eyes are working together. Hence patients don’t notice loss of vision until the disease has progressed significantly. Some studies have shown that over half the optic nerves can be dead before a patient starts to notice a reduction in vision.

At a routine eye examination, the eye pressure is measured very accurately. If it is out of the normal range, a visual field test is done to determine if there are any areas of decreased peripheral vision sensitivity. The visual field test is highly accurate and picks up subtle changes in peripheral vision the patients will never notice themselves. This is another reason why early detection is important as it takes fancy machines like the visual field analyzer to pick up subtle early changes.

Another machine that checks for early retinal cell / optic nerve loss due to glaucoma is called the OCT. The OCT can detect early loss of tissue before it shows up on the visual field test. Both the visual field test and the OCT are indicated for anyone with a first time pressure out of the ordinary. Often times these tests are normal but then a baseline has been established to compare to future retesting and check for optic nerve damage.

Early detection glaucoma is also important in certain patient populations such as diabetics, hypertensives and particular African-Americans who have four times the incidence and likelihood of glaucoma and subsequent vision loss. Those with glaucoma in the family, particularly siblings or parents are also at much higher risk and need to have glaucoma testing regularly. Call Complete Family Eyecare today to get your appointment scheduled! 952-562-8116