Preserve Your Vision: The Importance of Glaucoma Screening | Revere Health

Roughly 3 million Americans have glaucoma, a group of eye diseases that affect the optic nerve and lead to impaired vision and blindness. Damage to your vision caused by glaucoma cannot be restored, but the good news is early detection and treatment can help prevent severe vision loss in the future.

Most types of glaucoma are asymptomatic—this means people with the disease don’t experience any symptoms—until the disease progresses and causes significant damage. That’s why screening is so critical, especially if you are at risk.

Risk factors of glaucoma

If you have one or more of these risk factors, it’s important to talk to your eye doctor about glaucoma screenings:

  • Age: Those over age 40 are at an increased risk.
  • Ethnicity: People of African, Asian or Hispanic descent are more likely to develop glaucoma and at an earlier age.
  • Family history: It’s important to identify whether you have a family history of glaucoma because the most common type of glaucoma, open-angle glaucoma, is hereditary.
  • Health conditions: Some conditions increase your likelihood of developing glaucoma, including diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure) migraines, poor blood circulation and others.
  • Eye conditions: Certain eye conditions including high fluid pressure in the eye, farsightedness, nearsightedness, thinning of the optic nerve and corneas that are thin in the center increase your risk of glaucoma.
  • Eye injuries or surgeries: Blunt trauma, multiple eye surgeries and even medical treatments such as long-term steroid medication use may lead to glaucoma.

Like with most medical conditions, understanding and identifying your risk factors can help you get timely screening and treatment, which is key to preserving your health.

How often should I get screened?

The age and frequency with which you start screening for glaucoma depends on your risk factors. Your doctor will be able to help you determine what screening schedule is right for you. As a general rule, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends the following:

Age 20-29: Those with a family history of glaucoma or of an at-risk ethnic descent should have an examination every three to five years.

Age 30-39: Those with a family history of glaucoma or of an at-risk ethnic descent should have an examination every two to four years.

Age 40-64: Everyone should get an eye exam every two to four years.

Age 65+: Everyone should get an eye exam every one to two years.

What to expect during an eye examination

Your eye doctor can check for glaucoma during a comprehensive dilated eye exam screening, which consists of several different parts:

  • Visual acuity test: This test measures how well you can see at different distances using a chart with letters of varying sizes.
  • Visual field test: This test measures your peripheral vision (this is your side vision when looking forward).
  • Dilated eye exam: Using special drops, your doctor will dilate (widen) the pupils, allowing him or her to view the inside of your eye and check the optic nerve and retina for damage. You may experience blurry vision for up to several hours after the exam.
  • Tonometry: Tonometry is a method of measuring fluid pressure in the eye. Measuring this is similar to measuring blood pressure. Your doctor may use a numbing drops and a tonometer or an instrument that blows a small puff of air into your eye to measure eye pressure.
  • Pachymetry: This is a measure of your cornea’s thickness using an ultrasonic wave instrument.

Your doctor may also take photos of your optic nerve and inspect the drainage angle of the eye.

If you have one or more risk factors of glaucoma, or are over age 40 and have not been screened, talk to your ophthalmologist (eye doctor) about screening. Glaucoma screening is critical to preserving vision and preventing blindness.

Revere Health Ophthalmology offers patients the best in eye care from the treatment of eye-related diseases and conditions to prescribing glasses and contacts.

Resources:

“Facts About Glaucoma.” National Eye Institute.

https://nei.nih.gov/health/glaucoma/glaucoma_facts

“Who is at Risk for Glaucoma?” American Academy of Ophthalmology.

https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/glaucoma-risk

“Risk Factors for Glaucoma.” VisionAware.

http://www.visionaware.org/info/your-eye-condition/glaucoma/risk-factors/125

“Save Your Sight – Glaucoma Screening.” MedicineNet.

https://www.medicinenet.com/glaucoma_screening_age_and_tests/views.htm

“Glaucoma Diagnosis.” American Academy of Ophthalmology.

https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/glaucoma-diagnosis

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.

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