Silently Going Blind - Glaucoma strikes when patients are not regularly screened

KINGSTON, ON, May 15, 2013 /CNW/ - Known as a silent thief of vision, glaucoma affects nearly 3% of the population. A new meta-analysis of literature on glaucoma conducted by a Queen's University research team, was published this month in JAMA - the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study highlights the importance of regular screenings for glaucoma especially for those over the age of 40. 

Glaucoma is a disease that deteriorates the optic nerve over time and is a leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide.  The insidious onset of glaucoma is often associated with diagnostic delay.

"The real problem with glaucoma is that it begins by affecting the far periphery of vision. So most patients don't know that they have it until it progresses and begins to destroy their central vision," says Dr. Sanjay Sharma - a Professor of Ophthalmology and Epidemiology at Queen's University one of the authors of the study. "Nearly half of those with glaucoma remain undetected and half of those diagnosed have very advanced disease on presentation."

Since glaucoma progression can often be effectively diminished when treated, identifying those at risk for glaucoma could lead to earlier detection and prevent irreversible vision loss. 

The research team based at the Hotel Dieu Hospital synthesized 50 peer-reviewed articles and found support for the American Academy of Ophthalmology's guidelines: 

  Frequency Based on Risk Factors
Age No Risk Factors Risk Factors
Under 40 years Every 5-10 years Every 5-10 years
40-54 years Every 2-4 years Every 1-3 years
55-64 years Every 1-3 years Every 1-2 years
65+ years Every 1-2 years Every 1-2 years

Risk factors include: increased CDR (cup to disk ratio), CDR asymmetry, disc hemorrhage and elevated intraocular pressure, as well as demographic risk factors of family history, black race and advanced age. 

The best available data support an ophthalmologist's examination as the most accurate way to detect glaucoma. Adds Sharma, "This is why it is so important that family doctors refer their patients over the age of 40 for screening." 

To better understand glaucoma Dr. Sharma has created this informative whiteboard animation:

The original article in JAMA can be found at:  

SOURCE: Insidermedicine and CEH Inc.



For further information:

For further information or to reach Dr. Sanjay Sharma, contact James Mackintosh, Insidermedicine, 416-899-2599,

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