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Health & Medicine for Senior Citizens

Risk of Blindness from Glaucoma Cut Almost in Half by Diagnosis, Therapy

Caution that a significant proportion of devastating eye disease sufferers still progress to blindness

View for glaucoma patient

Jan. 21, 2014 - The probability of blindness due to the serious eye disease glaucoma has decreased by nearly half since 1980. The researchers speculate that advances in diagnosis and therapy are likely causes for the decrease, but caution that a significant proportion of patients still progress to blindness. The National Eye Institute recommends that seniors age 60 and older have an eye exam at least every two years.

A leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide, glaucoma affects more than 2.7 million individuals aged 40 and older in the United States and 60.5 million people globally. Significant changes in diagnostic criteria, new therapies and tools as well as improvements in glaucoma management techniques have benefited individual patients; however their effect on the rates of visual impairment on a population level has remained unclear.

This study, published this month in Ophthalmology, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, was conducted by a team based at the Mayo Clinic. It is the first to assess long-term changes in the risk of progression to blindness and the population incidence of glaucoma-related blindness.

By identifying epidemiologic trends in glaucoma, the researchers hope to gain insight into best practices for the distribution of health and medical resources, as well as management approaches for entire populations.

The researchers reviewed every incident case (857 cases total) of open-angle glaucoma (OAG) - the most common form of glaucoma - diagnosed from 1965 to 2009 in Olmsted County, Minn., one of the few places in the world where long-term population-based studies are conducted.

They found that the 20-year probability and the population incidence of blindness due to OAG in at least one eye had decreased from 25.8 percent for subjects diagnosed between 1965 and 1980 to 13.5 percent for those diagnosed between 1981 and 2000.

2010 U.S. age-specific prevalence rates for Glaucoma by age, gender, and race/ethnicity

What is Glaucoma - MedlinePlus

Glaucoma is a group of diseases that can damage the eye's optic nerve. It is a leading cause of blindness in the United States. It usually happens when the fluid pressure inside the eyes slowly rises, damaging the optic nerve. Often there are no symptoms at first. Without treatment, people with glaucoma will slowly lose their peripheral, or side vision. They seem to be looking through a tunnel. Over time, straight-ahead vision may decrease until no vision remains.

A comprehensive eye exam can tell if you have glaucoma. People at risk should get eye exams at least every two years. They include

   • African Americans over age 40

   • People over age 60, especially Mexican Americans

   • People with a family history of glaucoma

There is no cure, but glaucoma can usually be controlled. Early treatment can help protect your eyes against vision loss. Treatments usually include prescription eyedrops and/or surgery.

NIH: National Eye Institute

>> Facts about Glaucoma(National Eye Institute)
Also available in
Spanish

>> Glaucoma (National Eye Institute)

>> Glaucoma (Patient Education Institute)

The population incidence of blindness within 10 years of diagnosis also decreased from 8.7 per 100,000 to 5.5 per 100,000 for those groups, respectively. Yet, 15 percent of the patients diagnosed in the more recent timeframe still progressed to blindness.

"These results are extremely encouraging for both those suffering from glaucoma and the doctors who care for them, and suggest that the improvements in the diagnosis and treatment have played a key role in improving outcomes," said Arthur J. Sit, M.D., associate professor of ophthalmology at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and lead researcher for the study.

"Despite this good news, the rate at which people continue to go blind due to OAG is still unacceptably high. This is likely due to late diagnosis and our incomplete understanding of glaucoma, so it is critical that research into this devastating disease continues, and all eye care providers be vigilant in looking for early signs of glaucoma during routine exams."

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that all adults receive a baseline eye exam by age 40, and for seniors age 65 and older to have an eye exam every one to two years or as directed by an ophthalmologist. For more information about glaucoma and other eye conditions, visit http://www.geteyesmart.org.

 

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Nov. 14, 2013

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Nov. 1, 2013


 
 

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Notes:

The American Academy of Ophthalmology, headquartered in San Francisco, is the world's largest association of eye physicians and surgeons--Eye M.D.s--with more than 32,000 members worldwide. For more information, visit http://www.aao.org. The Academy's EyeSmartฎ program educates the public about the importance of eye health and empowers them to preserve healthy vision. EyeSmart provides the most trusted and medically accurate information about eye diseases, conditions and injuries. OjosSanos™ is the Spanish-language version of the program. Visit http://www.geteyesmart.org or http://www.ojossanos.org to learn more.

Ophthalmology, the official journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, publishes original, peer-reviewed, clinically applicable research. Topics include the results of clinical trials, new diagnostic and surgical techniques, treatment methods technology assessments, translational science reviews and editorials.

 

Financial Relief for Volkswagen Diesel Owners

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In the major scandal of 2015, Volkswagen cheated you and the world. They rigged diesel emission controls so you, nor regulators, would know how much pollution their cars were adding to our environment.

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