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The Glaucoma Foundation

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JANUARY IS GLAUCOMA AWARENESS MONTH
Early diagnosis and treatment are the keys to controlling this "sneak thief of sight."


Some 3 million Americans have glaucoma, but many are unaware they have the potentially blinding disease because they have no symptoms. The notion that people believe they can tell if they’re developing glaucoma is one dangerous myth about the disease. Here are some others.

Myth 1: Your vision will deteriorate or blur if you are developing the disease.

Most forms of glaucoma have no symptoms or cause no change in vision until later in the course of the disease. Once vision has been lost due to glaucoma, permanent damage has already been done to the optic nerve, and sight cannot be regained. Make an appointment today to get your eyes examined. 

Myth 2: Only old people get glaucoma.

Though frequency increases with age, glaucoma can strike at any time in a person's life. Approximately one in 10,000 babies is born with glaucoma and children between the ages of four and ten may develop a form of the disease called late congenital glaucoma. For those affected between ages ten and 35, the most common causes are hereditary disorders.

Myth 3: Glaucoma is always inherited.

Family history is a strong risk factor for glaucoma, but an absence of family history does not mean a person is risk-free. If there is a family history of glaucoma, everyone in the family -- from children on up -- should be tested.

Myth 4: Ethnicity has nothing to do with glaucoma risk.

Blacks and Asians are at particularly high risk for developing glaucoma. Researchers have also recently discovered that glaucoma is far more common among U.S. Hispanics than originally thought. African Americans, who are six times as likely to suffer from glaucoma as Caucasian Americans, develop glaucoma 10 years earlier and are fourteen to seventeen times more likely to go blind than their Caucasian counterparts.

Myth 5: All people with glaucoma have elevated intraocular pressure (IOP).

Elevated IOP is a risk factor for glaucoma and is not the disease itself. There are more than forty different types of glaucoma, and not all of them are associated with elevated IOP. Glaucoma specialists believe that some forms of glaucoma are strongly related to vascular changes and impaired “nutrition” (poor blood flow) to the optic nerve. The common thread among all glaucoma is damage to the optic nerve rather than elevated IOP.

Myth 6: If you don't have high blood pressure, you cannot have high eye pressure.

Blood pressure and eye pressure vary independently. Controlling blood pressure does not mean IOP is controlled. However, high blood pressure is often - but not always - associated with elevated intraocular pressure. Interestingly, low blood pressure is strongly associated with some forms of glaucoma, such as normal-tension glaucoma.

Myth 7:  Glaucoma always leads to blindness.

This is one of the most dangerous myths of all. Some 90 percent of all glaucoma-related blindness could have been prevented with proper treatment. In fact, glaucoma is the leading cause of preventable blindness. But you can’t get treatment unless you know you have a problem!



GLAUCOMA TREATMENT NEWS

In 2017, new strides were made in the treatment of glaucoma. Recent issues of this newsletter have reported on several newly-approved minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS) devices and procedures. The advent of microinvasive glaucoma surgery, often performed in conjunction with cataract surgery, opens up new avenues for controlling IOP.

There has also been news on the medication front. In November, as we reported here, the FDA approved Bausch + Lomb’s new glaucoma medication, Vyzulta (latanoprostene bunod ophthalmic solution, 0.024%), for the reduction of IOP in patients with open-angle glaucoma or ocular hypertension. Vyzulta is an eyedrop for once-daily usage but has a dual mechanism of action. It is now available in pharmacies. 

Vyzulta provides a new treatment option that works to reduce IOP by increasing the outflow through both the trabecular meshwork and the uveoscleral pathways. While the prostaglandin component increases uveoscleral outflow, the nitric oxide component releases nitric acid to increase aqueous outflow through the trabecular meshwork.
 
Closing out the year, this December the FDA approved Aerie Pharmaceuticals’ Rhopressa (netarsudil ophthalmic solution 0.02%) -- a once-daily eye drop designed to lower IOP in patients with open-angle glaucoma or ocular hypertension. The therapy is believed to reduce IOP by increasing outflow of aqueous humor through the trabecular meshwork. While approved by the FDA, the drug is not yet available.



GET INVOLVED WITH TGF

Support TGF's research and education programs and donate today.

Join  a TGF glaucoma support group online to learn how other patients manage their disease. 

Connect with other glaucoma patients on TGF's Facebook page.

Follow TGF on Twitter and start the #glaucoma discussion. 

Share your personal glaucoma story with us.

 LOOKING FOR A NEW EYE CARE PROFESSIONAL?


 

Following are some resources suggested by the National Eye Institute to help you find an eye care professional.

You can:


•    Ask family members and friends about eye care professionals they use.

•    Ask your family doctor for the name of a local eye care specialist.

•    Contact your insurance company or health plan to learn whether it has a list of eye care professionals that are covered under your plan.

•    Call the department of ophthalmology or optometry at a nearby hospital or university medical center.

•    Contact a state or county association of ophthalmologists or optometrists. These groups, usually called academies or societies, may have lists of eye care professionals with specific information on specialty and experience. 

Other resources include:

•    The American Academy of Ophthalmology and EyeSmart host Find an Eye M.D., an online listing of member ophthalmologists in the United States and abroad.
Website: https://secure.aao.org/aao/find-ophthalmologist
 

•    The American Board of Ophthalmology hosts Verify a Physician, an online portal to verify if an ophthalmologist is board certified.
Website: http://abop.org/verify-a-physician/ 


•    The American Board of Optometry hosts Optometrist Search, a searchable online database of board certified optometrists.
Website: http://americanboardofoptometry.org/
optometrist-search/


•    The American Optometric Association hosts Find a Doctor, a searchable online listing of member optometrists.
Website:
 http://www.aoa.org/doctor-locator-search?tab=basic&sso=y 

•    American Glaucoma Society hosts Find an AGS Doctor, a searchable database of its members –ophthalmologists who specialize in treating glaucoma.
Website: http://aaosso.americanglaucoma

society.net/ags/Find-An-AGS-Doctor

 


 
KEY QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR DOCTOR


 
If you’ve been diagnosed with glaucoma, communicating with your eye doctor is essential to successfully treating the disease. Here are some tips that will help you work in partnership with your doctor to preserve your vision.

1. If you are a new glaucoma patient, ask what type of glaucoma you have. There are many forms of glaucoma.

2. If medications are prescribed, make sure you understand why you need to take the medication, what the medication will do for you, and how to take it properly.  

3. Ask your doctor (or your doctor’s assistants) for a written list of your medications and the times to use them. Ask what you should do if you miss a dose.

4. Ask about the risks and side effects associated with the recommended treatment, and if there are any foods, drugs or activities you should avoid. Report any side effects or allergic reactions to your doctor promptly.

5. Ask if there are any changes since your last exam.

6. Ask questions about anything that seems unclear to you, such as the names and purposes of tests you may undergo.

7. Find out when you should return for your next exam.

8. Between appointments, keep notes about questions you have and what you need to discuss with your doctor.

9. It's a good idea to have a friend or relative accompany you whenever you make a visit to an eye care specialist or any other health care provider. This person can be your memory jogger and remind you about questions you want to ask. Your friend can also take notes about information the doctor gives you.
 

 
WE ARE LOOKING FOR STORIES TO SHARE

One of the most popular features of TGF’s Eye to Eye newsletter and electronic newsletter update has been our “Lifestyle Connection/Living with Glaucoma” series, in which glaucoma patients, inspiring and often courageous, have shared their personal stories. We’ve featured a teenager who lives life to the fullest, a triathlete who makes news, an active 90-year-old woman who shared fine advice, among others. 

We are always looking for individuals whose lives have been impacted by glaucoma and whose experiences can inform others. If you would like to share your own story, or suggest another, email asteele@glaucomafoundation.org.

 

 

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