Myths and Facts about Glaucoma Treatment
MYTH: I have 6/6 vision and no symptoms, I won’t develop glaucoma.
FACT: Glaucoma is a “silent thief of sight”. Many patients do not notice symptoms until Glaucoma has advanced. Glaucoma is defined as changes in optic nerve observed by Ophthalmologist. Therefore, even though you may not have symptoms, but changes in optic nerve will gradually deteriorate your vision. Another reason that you may not notice changes in your vision, is that one eye can compensate for any loss in other. Unfortunately, a patient may already have lost one eye’s peripheral vision by the time one visits Ophthalmologist. Earlier the Glaucoma is identified and treated, more the chances of preserving the vision.
MYTH: I am young and need not worry about Glaucoma.
FACT: Risk of Glaucoma increases with age, but some types of Glaucoma can present at early age, including children and young adults. Glaucoma secondary to dandruff, trauma, uveitis, diabetes, steroids can can occur at any age.
MYTH: I have normal Intra-Ocular Pressure (IOP), hence Glaucoma is ruled out
FACT: One might think that IOP less than 21 mm Hg rules out Glaucoma. Wrong. Glaucoma need not necessarily mean elevated IOP, but a damage to optic nerve. Some people with so called ‘normal’ IOT can also show changes in optic nerve and impairment of peripheral vision.
MYTH: During a routine eye check, I was found to have increased Intra-Ocular Pressure (IOP). I have developed Glaucoma
FACT: An elevated eye pressure or IOP is a major risk factor of Glaucoma, but an elevated IOP need not cause Glaucoma in everyone. Some people may have relatively higher IOP than others and not develop Glaucoma at all. While someone with normal IOP may also develop Glaucoma. It depends on multiple risk factors, including some unknown ones. Nevertheless, studies have proven that lowering elevated IOP by medications is associated with reduction in risk of Glaucoma.
MYTH: Everyone with glaucoma will eventually become blind.
FACT: Once you have been diagnosed Glaucoma, Ophthalmologists role is to attenuate the progression of disease, by medications, laser or surgery. Objective is to minimize further damage to optic nerve and impairment of peripheral vision. If left untreated it will progress to blindness earlier. You might want to outlive the expectant blindness by creeping the disease process, by early identification and proper treatment.
MYTH: Glaucoma is inherited. I won’t get it without a family history.
FACT: Certain types of Glaucoma are inherited and having a family history increases the probability of developing Glaucoma. But many people diagnosed with Glaucoma do not have a relative with the same disease. Probably because of other risk factors and not all family members have been appropriately examined. American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends optic nerve examination (retinoscopy) for all adults above age 40, even with no signs of eye disease or risk factors.
MYTH: I have family history of Glaucoma. I will also develop it.
FACT: Having a family history increases the probability of developing Glaucoma, but not necessarily. Nevertheless, it is crucial to get screened, owing to symptomless nature of the disease. In fact, American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends optic nerve examination (retinoscopy) for all adults above age 40, even with no signs of eye disease or risk factors. All patients with Glaucoma should insist family members to regularly get screened to rule out Glaucoma.
MYTH: I am a diabetic patient and have been diagnosed Neovascular Glaucoma. I am told that it is untreatable.
FACT: Neovascular Glaucoma is an abnormal formation of new blood vessels, blocking the circulation of fluids through eye’s drainage channels and leading to rise in Intra-Ocular Pressure. It is almost always associated with Diabetes Mellitus. It has been presumed to be difficult to treat. But with advancements in laser technology, it can effectively be managed by an experienced Ophthalmic Surgeon at facility like Currae Hospital.