Our privacy policy has changed. By using this site, you agree to the Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. Dismiss

January is Glaucoma Awareness Month: Local Eye Care Specialists explain risks and treatment options for glaucoma

Jan. 17, 2013

Glaucoma is a condition in which fluid pressure in the eye is too high for the health of the optic nerve. Left untreated, it first causes loss of side vision and later possibly all sight. The most common type is painless and progresses so slowly that most people don't notice symptoms for years—until severe permanent damage has occurred. What’s the best protection? The partners at Eye Care Specialists, one of the state’s leading ophthalmology practices, provide the following information.

Get tested on a regular basis
Daniel Ferguson, MD, an eye surgeon who performs advanced drainage implant procedures to alleviate glaucoma-related eye pressure, advises, “Since glaucoma and other sight-threatening conditions often don’t exhibit early symptoms, regular eye exams are important for anyone past age 40.” Ferguson notes that a thorough examination for glaucoma should include the following:

Ophthalmoscopy: An instrument called an “ophthalmoscope” is used to look into and light up the back of the eye to check the health of the retina and look for signs of glaucoma (like abnormal optic nerve size and loss of pink coloring). For the best view inside, the pupils are dilated.

Tonometry (Pressure) Testing: Measures inner eye pressure by determining how much
pressure is necessary to cause a slight indentation on the outer part of the eye. This is done either
by directing a warm puff of air at the eye or painlessly touching it with what is called a “tonometer.” Normal pressure readings range from 12-21, but can vary by hour and day.

Visual Field Testing: During this test, the patient stares into a machine and presses a
button when they see flashes of light. A computer then plots a computerized “map” of the range
of sight based on what areas have been lost. Loss of side vision is a common sign of glaucoma.

Gonioscopy: A special hand-held contact lens with a mirror inside is used to examine the angle where the iris meets the cornea. This helps determine the type of glaucoma and treatment plan.

Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) Testing: Eye Care Specialists joins Harvard Medical School and other prestigious institutions in offering this advancement. Patients focus on a dot while a safe, invisible laser light scans the inside of the eye. The OCT then creates detailed printouts (similar to CT scans) that visualize and measure any changes to the optic nerve and retina (an area smaller than the head of a pin)—often before damage occurs. If glaucoma is detected, we can treat it with drops, laser therapy or surgery. Follow-up scans are used to watch for changes and prevent future vision loss. Staff and patients love that the OCT is fast and painless and results aren’t influenced by attention span, comfort, or ability to follow directions.

Know the risks for getting and having glaucoma
Head of Ophthalmology at Aurora Sinai Medical Center and partner at Eye Care Specialists private practice, Dr. Brett Rhode highlights the following glaucoma-related risks:

* Glaucoma is most common in adults over age 40, and the risk increases with each decade. Regular screenings should start at this time.

* If you have a sibling or parent with glaucoma, your risk of developing the disease increases 5 to 10 times. As such, children and siblings of glaucoma patients should have their eyes checked every 1-2 years. (Even if initial results are normal, glaucoma can often develop over time.)

* Ethnicity affects your risk rate. If you are black, you have a 6-8 times higher risk of going blind from glaucoma than a white person. Hispanics and Asians also have a higher risk rate than Caucasians.

* Having diabetes doubles the risk of developing glaucoma.

* According to one study, glaucoma patients 50 and older were three times as likely to have experienced a fall in the previous year and six times as likely to have been involved in a car accident in the previous five years as were members of control groups. They were also more likely to be at fault when a collision did occur. Why? Glaucoma can damage the optic nerve, which may lead to potentially dangerous narrowing of the visual field or "tunnel vision."

Prompt diagnosis and treatment are vital to protecting and preserving vision. Encourage your siblings and other family members to be checked for glaucoma, especially if one of you has the disease. If any of you do not have an eye care specialist, you can call 414-321-7035 for a free educational booklet and information about scheduling a comprehensive screening (in West Allis, Wauwatosa or downtown Milwaukee) that is typically covered by Medicare and most insurances. You can also visit www.eyecarespecialists.net for more info about glaucoma and other eye conditions.

Learn the Treatment Options

How is glaucoma treated?
Dr. Freedman: Glaucoma can’t be cured, but treatment can usually halt further damage. The most common type of glaucoma is a lifelong condition that requires continual management. To prevent vision loss, we prescribe drops to lower pressure by either decreasing fluid production in or increasing fluid drainage out of the eye.

Is there an alternative to drops?
Dr. Paskowitz: In some cases, when drops alone cannot control the pressure, side effects are intolerable, or multiple types of drops are required, laser treatment may be an alternative, including LTP & SLT (which increase fluid drainage) and ECP (which decreases fluid production). These procedures take less than 10 minutes at our surgery center and are covered by Medicare and most insurances.

How safe are laser procedures?
Dr. Freedman: LTP, SLT & ECP have very good success rates for controlling glaucoma and reducing the need for drops or surgery and can sometimes be repeated, as needed.

What are the major benefits?
Dr. Paskowitz: If laser treatment achieves steady normal pressures, it can reduce two huge burdens—cost and compliance. This is especially important for people who already have other conditions requiring daily medication(s) that they have to worry about buying and taking.

Community Watch

» Missing West Allis woman's body identified in South Dakota Updated:  5/28

» Milwaukee man, 37, charged with sexual assault of a child in West Allis Updated:  5/27

» Roundup of Memorial Day events in suburban Milwaukee and Lake Country 5/27

» Greenfield man facing possible charges after threatening women with loaded gun Updated:  5/26

» 2 men sentenced in attempted carjackings in Greenfield, Oak Creek 5/25

» Light poles, electric wires down after traffic accident in Greenfield Updated:  5/25

» Body in parking lot identified as West Milwaukee man, 23 5/24

» Initial Reaction: Talking with star Waukesha soccer players Dani Rhodes, Emily Cervantes Updated:  5/24

» Death investigation after body of a man is found in West Milwaukee 5/24

» State Fair raises rescinded, converted to one-time bonuses 5/23

» Ex-Derzon Coins operator ordered to pay estate $1.2 million 5/22

» Video shows Greenfield police technique to end chase 5/21

» Review: Cream City actors connect in 'Same Time, Next Year' Updated:  5/21

» $26 million upgrade for Greenfield schools ready to go forward Updated:  5/19

» Oak Creek stuns Whitnall, 12-2, in battle of softball powers 5/19

» Input to be sought on Highway 100 project in West Allis, Greenfield 5/17

» A 'Green' exhibit to lift environs of Inspiration Studios in West Allis 5/17

» Initial Reaction Podcast: A chat with award-winning sportscaster Dennis Krause Updated:  5/17

» Greenfield residents react to scaled-down Edgerton Avenue project 5/17

» West Allis might switch to carts and mixing all recyclables together 5/17

» Man who chased girl in alley sought by West Allis police 5/12

» Greenfield Highlands clears plan commission, headed for council 5/11

» Two appeals so far in Greenfield concerning beekeeping permits 5/10

» Initial Reaction Podcast: A look at talented Arrowhead baseball team 5/10

» West Allis schools facilities panel to have staff, parents, citizens 5/10

View All Posts Got a tip? Welcome rss

Best Summer Ever

 

We've made it easy for you to get out and go this summer. From hitting the trails for a bike ride or walk, to where to find beer gardens in the area, to the best places to swim in Waukesha County to the best summer drinks and summer reads, check out our 2016 summer guide.

Advertisement

Advertisement

CONNECT    

Advertisement