Eye Matters
March 5, 2010

Hello readers,

The week of the 7th to the 13th of March has been designated World Glaucoma Week by the World Glaucoma Association and as such I am pleased to put the topic Glaucoma back on the table. Also listen out for radio interviews and presentations on programmes such as Health Word and Health Microscope as we strive to increase public awareness on this topic.{{more}}

Glaucoma is best known as the sneak thief of sight. It is best defined as a group of eye diseases that gradually steal your sight without any warning. Usually in the early stages of the disease, there are no symptoms. It is estimated that at least half of the people afflicted by this disease may not even know it.

The main reason why people go blind with this disease is because of damage to the optic nerve. The optic nerve can be compared to an electric cable with over a million wires. It has the responsibility for transporting images from the eye to the brain.

Although there has been a lot of research, there is no known cure for glaucoma as of this writing. However, the use of medication and surgery can help to slow down or prevent further vision loss.

There are many factors involved in the treatment of glaucoma; however detecting the disease early is the most effective way for stopping its progression.

In the past, we used high eye pressure within the eye (intraocular pressure) as the most likely cause of the optic nerve damage. Nowadays we understand that other factors are involved, because many people with even normal levels of pressure are experiencing vision loss from glaucoma.

Recently, it has also been found that the thickness of the cornea plays a role in measuring the level of pressure in the eye. People with thick corneas may have falsely high eye pressure readings and conversely people with thin corneas, may have falsely low pressure readings. A test called pachymetry measures the thickness of the cornea and allows ophthalmologists to determine whether people at risk for glaucoma should be treated or not.

Other examinations may also include: Visual field exams, Gonioscopy (Anterior Chamber angle assessment), Examination of the optic nerve and the retina, Visual field examinations and computer nerve imaging among other tests.

As you can see, diagnosing glaucoma may involve several complex procedures.

Next week we will discuss who is at risk, symptoms, and other things that you need to know about glaucoma.

Enjoy the discussions for World Glaucoma Week.

Dr Kenneth Onu is a resident Consultant Ophthalmologist at the Beachmont Eye Institute/Eyes R Us Send questions to: Beachmont@gmail.com

Tel: 784 456-1210