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Glaucoma is Far More Than Just High Pressure

This month, Dr. Krawitz has challenged me to acquire a clinical skill known as gonioscopy.  Goniscopy is when a technician or doctor looks at the angular structure of you eye, through a mirrored gonioscopic lens, to determine of you have Narrow Angle Glaucoma.  Many Ophthalmologists throughout the country do not know how to do this, consequently, leading to a misdiagnosis of their Glaucoma.  I am a firm believer that patients need to be well educated on their own personal health issues, so, I thought I would take this opportunity to explain a little bit about what Glaucoma really is. Glaucoma is actually damage to your optic nerve. It is often called the "sneak thief of sight" since there are no symptoms and once vision is lost, it is permanent. Actually, as much as 40% of vision can be lost without a person ever noticing. Many of my patients are under the misconception that glaucoma is simply high pressure in the eye. Truthfully, checking pressure is only one part of a full Glaucoma examination. A person can have high pressure and no optic nerve damage, which would mean they have Ocular Hypertension as opposed to Glaucoma. Conversely, a person can also have low pressure and optic nerve damage, which would give them Low Tension Glaucoma. The best way to determine if you have Glaucoma is to get a complete exam from an Ophthalmologist. This exam should include testing of your intra-ocular pressure, gonioscopy to determine if the structure of your eyes will make you prone to high pressure, pachymetry to determine the thickness of your cornea because research has shown a correlation between thin corneas and glaucoma and lastly visual field testing which tests your peripheral vision, as glaucoma causes loss in peripheral vision first. Glaucoma.org reports that over 2.2 million Americans have Glaucoma, but sadly only half of them know it. I encourage everyone to make an appointment to see your eye doctor before the year's end. You never know, that visit could save your sight.* Mary Sweetman, C.O.A. Certified Ophthalmic Assistant

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