In 1990, George W. Bush's ophthalmologist diagnosed him with glaucoma. It was a major news story that made national headlines. But when two world-renowned glaucoma specialists dismissed that diagnosis as incorrect and took the president off his glaucoma medications, it was done quietly with minimal fanfare.
The problem that faces many doctors, including George Bush's is that glaucoma affects nearly one in every 50 adults over the age of 40. If you've had your eye pressure measured and it was normal, you MIGHT STILL have glaucoma.
That's just one of the reasons that glaucoma is such a confusing disease. It not only steals your peripheral vision away, but acts silently without any pain or redness in most cases. The way in which glaucoma is diagnosed has changed.
Nearly 1/3 of people who are discovered to have glaucoma have normal eye pressures at least some of the time. So your doctor needs to be very careful to make sure that YOU don't have it.
If you have:
* Family members with glaucoma,
* History of diabetes,
* High blood pressure, or
* You're African American,
...then your chances of having the most common form of glaucoma, known as Primary Open Angle Glaucoma, is more likely.
Here's the critical information that you need to make sure is getting checked:
1. Ask what your eye pressure measurement is. Ninety five percent of people have pressures between 10 and 21. Higher pressure increases your chances of having glaucoma.
2. Ask the doctor what the appearance is of your optic nerve. When optic nerves have increased "cupping" or look like glaucoma, the doctor should perform an optic nerve scan. This test not only helps to make the diagnosis easier, it is also even more important for following the nerve over time to make sure that your nerve is not worsening.
3. If your pressures are elevated or your optic nerve has a suspicious appearance, you need to have a computerized visual field exam done. This test looks for small blind spots in the periphery of your vision that you would not otherwise be aware of.
4. If your eye pressure is more than 21, you need to have a corneal thickness (pachymetry) measurement done. Thin corneal thickness measurements have been found to be more predictive of glaucoma progression than is eye pressure!
In many cases, the diagnosis of 'no glaucoma' or 'glaucoma' is black and white. But oftentimes it falls in a gray zone in which the doctor informs you that you are a 'glaucoma suspect.'
As a fellowship-trained glaucoma specialist, I have seen both sides of the spectrum, including patients treated for high eye pressure that did not have glaucoma, and patients with normal eye pressure who were mistakenly assumed not to have glaucoma.
Glaucoma is a damaging eye disease that can result in blindness if left untreated.
All of us at VisiVite.com want to help you preserve your vision for years to come by giving you the resources necessary to detect and battle glaucoma.
Paul Krawitz, M.D., President and Founder