May 21, 2004.
New research suggests doctors need to do more than just measure pressure in the eye when screening people for glaucoma.
According to researchers presenting a review of glaucoma research in this week’s issue of The Lancet, examination of the optic nerve is the most effective way to determine whether or not someone has early stage glaucoma.
In addition to assessing the optic nerve, authors of the report suggest doctors look at the retinal nerve fiber layer and visual functioning when making a diagnosis of glaucoma. Doctors can also use new imaging and psychophysical tests to improve detection and monitoring of the disease.
Finding the glaucoma in its earliest stages is important because the condition can be easily treated with eye drops. Unfortunately, glaucoma often goes undetected until it has already caused visual disability or even blindness. The disease is currently the world’s second leading cause of blindness. More than 66 million people around the world are affected by glaucoma.
The risk of developing glaucoma increases as people get older. The disease is found more frequently in blacks and has been associated with visual field abnormalities, severe nearsightedness, and a family history of the condition. People with a first-degree relative with glaucoma are up to eight-times more likely to get glaucoma than those in the general population.
This article was reported by Ivanhoe.com, who offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, go to: http://www.ivanhoe.com/newsalert/.
SOURCE: The Lancet, 2004;363:1711-1720
Copyright © 2004 Ivanhoe Broadcast News, Inc.
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