Eye Matters
January 22, 2013

Glaucoma – ‘the sneak thief of sight’

Hello readers,

The month of the January has been designated World Glaucoma Month by the World Glaucoma Association.

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.{{more}}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.

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