True or False: Everyone Knows What Glaucoma Is

Everyone knows what glaucoma is. –  That is FALSE – A Prevent Blindness America Survey found that 50% had heard of glaucoma, but weren’t sure what it was. Another 30% of people had never even heard of glaucoma. The ones that had heard of glaucoma thought it was easily cured and did not lead to blindness.  In fact, glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness. And it is often called the ‘silent thief of sight’ because vision loss can occur gradually, without pain and without symptoms. Fortunately, if glaucoma is detected early and properly treated, most vision loss is preventable.(15) 27894850 senior couple cropped

The two most common types of glaucoma are open angle glaucoma and angle closure glaucoma, sometimes referred to as narrow angle glaucoma.

Our eyes have a constant flow of fluid that fills the front chamber of the eye and then drains into the bloodstream. It drains through the ‘angle’ of the eye which is located between the cornea and iris. In primary open angle glaucoma, this drainage system does not function properly, causing a slow buildup of fluid pressure. When this happens, optic nerve damage may occur. As the optic nerve deteriorates, there is a loss of peripheral vision, most times without notice because of the gradual nature in which the deterioration progresses. Often it is only after irreparable vision loss has occurred that a person becomes aware they even have this disease.

Narrow angle glaucoma results from a sudden, complete blockage of fluid drainage from the angle of the eye, causing a rapid and painful rise in pressure. It generally occurs in people over 40 and may cause vision loss rapidly if no treatment is given. Patients may experience severe eye pain accompanied by nausea, redness, swelling of the eye, loss of peripheral vision as well as blurred vision and halos. These symptoms usually last until the eye pressure is lowered. It is important to reduce the pressure quickly because permanent vision loss can occur if the pressure is not reduced in a timely manner.

GET THE FACTS ON GLAUCOMA  at http://www.theeyeassociates.com/services/glaucoma-services/  so everyone knows what glaucoma is. # glaucoma

If you have glaucoma and would like to be evaluated by our Fellowship Trained Glaucoma Specialist, Robert Friedman, MD, or one of our board certified eye physicians, please call toll free 1-866-865-2020 or contact The Eye Associates.

Diabetes and Eyes

We are all different

Unique Eyes

Diabetes affects your entire body, including your eyes.

According to The American Academy of Ophthalmology, diabetics are 25 times more likely to lose vision than those without this disease. The most common complication of diabetes is diabetic retinopathy, and the longer you have diabetes, the more likely it is that you’ll develop diabetic retinopathy.

High blood sugar levels, as associated with diabetes, often affect blood vessels in the retina of the eye, causing diabetic retinopathy. There are 2 stages of classifications of diabetic retinopathy: non-proliferative or proliferative.

Non-proliferative retinopathy, sometimes known as background diabetic retinopathy, is the most common form of the disease. This condition is first diagnosed when small retinal blood vessels start to swell. As the disease progresses, these blood vessels break and leak blood.

Proliferative retinopathy is the more advanced stage of diabetic retinopathy. As the condition progresses, more and more blood vessels are blocked. Sensing the need for new blood vessels to supply nourishment, new blood vessels grow, but they are frail and abnormal, often hemorrhaging and scarring. Patients with this type of diabetic retinopathy can experience severe vision loss, and even blindness.

At both the early and advanced stage, fluid can leak into the macula, the center of the retina that allows you to see fine detail. Known as macula edema, it is another common cause of vision loss in diabetics.

It is worth noting that smoking does accelerate the damaging effect that diabetes has on the retina. Several other influencing factors include your genes, your blood pressure levels, how long you have had diabetes and of course, your blood sugar level.

In the early and most treatable stages of diabetic retinopathy, there are usually no visual symptoms or pain. In fact, many times the disease can even progress to an advanced stage without your noticing the gradual change in your vision.

Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy may include:

Abnormal patterns in the field of vision
Dark streaks in your vision
Sudden onset of decreased vision
Distorted central vision
Floaters
Red film that blocks vision
Blind spots
Poor night vision
Items may have a blue-yellow color tone, interfering with color perception

We strongly recommend that all diabetics have yearly comprehensive medical eye exams. Your eye doctor will dilate your eyes and check your retina, blood vessels and optic nerves for changes. We may also order a fluorescein angiography to track and photograph dye as it flows through the retina to look for leaking blood vessels.

We also commonly perform an Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) to assess fluid accumulation (macular edema) in the retina of diabetics. The OCT can show areas of retinal thickening and is often a useful tool in assessing a patient’s response to a treatment.

Treatment

The most important tool for treating diabetic retinopathy is good management of the underlying diabetic condition. Nevertheless, once diabetic retinopathy has presented itself, there are several methods of treatment. Lasers are the mainstay; often used to treat the early stages of diabetic retinopathy by sealing leaking blood vessels. More advanced cases may require a vitrectomy, a surgical procedure needed when the vitreous, the gel in the eye, contains a great amount of blood.

The optimal time for treatment is before the patient experiences visual symptoms so early detection and treatment is the best protection against significant vision loss. Diabetic retinopathy can progress into its advanced stages with no pain, no recognizable vision loss. That’s the reason it is so important for all diabetics to get a yearly comprehensive medical eye examination.

Please take time to educate yourself, and any loved ones with diabetes, on how to preserve their vision.

If you are diabetic and would like to schedule an appointment for a comprehensive medical exam at The Eye Associates, please call 1-866-865-2020.