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GLAUCOMA: Early Diagnosis is Key
By Andrew Christie

If you’re like most adults over 40, you probably notice your eyesight isn’t quite what it used to be. While adjusting to reading glasses can be frustrating, a slight decline in vision as you age is completely natural and (often) treatable. However, vision changes at any stage of life—including your  “Golden Years”—can sometimes signal a much more serious underlying medical condition. Some serious eye conditions, such as glaucoma, may show no symptoms at all in their early stages. For this reason, the National Eye Institute recommends all adults have their eyes examined at least once per year.

What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a disease that occurs when “intra-ocular” (inside the eye) pressure builds up and damages the optic nerve. Since nerve cells cannot grow back once they die, continued damage to the optic nerve eventually leads to irreversible vision loss--and eventual blindness. Most people with glaucoma do not experience any symptoms until the disease has reached an advanced state (i.e. noticeable loss of peripheral vision). While vision lost due to glaucoma cannot be restored, most individuals with the disease can reduce or avert vision loss with an early diagnosis and treatment.

Who is at risk for Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is the second-leading cause of blindness worldwide, and the third-leading cause of blindness in the United States.

More than 2.7 million adults over the age of 40 currently live with the disease in the United States, most of whom successfully manage the chronic condition through various treatment methods.
Anyone can develop glaucoma. However, the demographics most at risk for developing the disease include the following:

  • Everyone 60 and older
  • Those who have a family history of glaucoma
  • African Americans and Hispanic Americans over age 40

While all adults and children should schedule eye exams at least once per year, individuals at higher risk for glaucoma should remain especially vigilant in monitoring their eye health.

What are the Symptoms of Glaucoma?
In its early stages, most glaucoma causes no pain and no change to vision. However, as the disease reaches an advanced stage, patients might experience blurred or hazy vision, seeing “halos” around bright lights, severe eye pain, and sudden sight loss. Loss of peripheral vision (or the development of “tunnel vision”) may signal the onset of permanent vision loss due to glaucoma. Left untreated, the “tunnel” will grow increasingly narrow until the patient becomes totally blind.

How is Glaucoma Treated?
Glaucoma is a “chronic” disease and must be monitored closely for the rest of a patient’s life. The standard model of care for monitoring glaucoma is one eye doctor visit every 3 months (4 visits total per year). During these visits, the eye doctor may adjust the type or amount of treatment depending on the individual patient’s needs.

A variety of methods can be used to treat and manage glaucoma. Medicines, in the form of eyedrops, are the most common early treatment for glaucoma. When taken regularly, these eyedrops can lower pressure in the eye.

If you have glaucoma (and don’t like eyedrops), you may want to consider laser surgery.

At Scott & Christie Eyecare Associates, we offer an alternative to the expensive monthly cost and the inconvenient dosing regimen of eye drops for glaucoma treatment. Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) laser surgery can greatly lessen or eliminate your dependence on eyedrops to treat glaucoma. SLT is a cool, non-thermal laser treatment that reduces pressure

inside the eye without the risk of destroying or scarring healthy cells.

The surgery is performed at our very own ambulatory surgery center in Cranberry by our surgeon, William C. Christie, MD, who has performed over 1,000 glaucoma surgeries.

To inquire more or to schedule an appointment, call (724) 772-5420 or visit www.scottandchristie.com.
Cranberry Township | The Surgery Center at Cranberry | 105 Brandt Drive, Cranberry Township | 724.772.5420 Fox Chapel | Fox Chapel Plaza | 1101 Freeport Road, Fox Chapel | 412.782.0400

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