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Nearly half of those with glaucoma remain undetected
Nearly half of those with glaucoma remain undetected

(May 16, 2013 - Insidermedicine)

A new  meta-analysis of literature on glaucoma published this month in JAMA – the Journal of the American Medical Association - highlights the importance of regular screenings for glaucoma especially for those over the age of 40.

 

Glaucoma is a disease that deteriorates the optic nerve over time and is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide,  second only to cataracts as the most common cause of blindness overall.  The insidious onset of glaucoma is often associated with diagnostic delay. 

 

Because glaucoma begins by affecting the far periphery of vision, most patients don’t know that they have it until the disease progresses and begins to destroy their central vision. Nearly half of those with glaucoma remain undetected and half of those diagnosed have very advanced disease on presentation.

 

Since glaucoma progression can often be effectively diminished when treated, identifying those at risk for glaucoma could potentially lead to earlier detection and prevent the associated irreversible vision loss. 

 

Screening for glaucoma must be completed by a high-quality eye care practitioner (typically an ophthalmologist) with access to advanced diagnostic tools.  Our findings on recommended frequency of screenings support the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s guidelines as follows:

 

 

Frequency Based on Risk Factors

Age

No Risk Factors

Risk Factorsa

Under 40 years

Every 5-10 years

Every 5-10 years

40-54 years

Every 2-4 years

Every 1-3 years

55-64 years

Every 1-3 years

Every 1-2 years

65+ years

Every 1-2 years

Every 1-2 years

 

Risk factors include: Individual findings of increased CDR (cup to Disk ratio), CDR asymmetry, disc hemorrhage, and elevated intraocular pressure, as well as demographic risk factors of family history, black race, and advanced age.

 

The best available data support an ophthalmologist’s examination as the most accurate way to detect glaucoma.

 

If glaucoma is diagnosed, its progression can be slowed with treatment. Therapy focuses on reduction of intraocular pressure using topical medications, laser procedures, and intraocular surgery. 

 

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For more information and a whiteboard video on this review of glaucoma please visit http://insidermedicine.com/glaucoma/
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