The diagnosis of glaucoma brings about a sense of dread and almost immediately stimulates visions of complete blindness. And for good reason It is one of the leading causes of irreversible blindness worldwide. However glaucoma is treatable and does not need to lead to blindness in most cases. With appropriate treatment, glaucoma patients are likely to keep their vision or at least slow the progression of the disease and live relatively normal lives.
The key, like most disease processes, is early detection and treatment. Except for acute angle closure glaucoma (ACG), glaucoma is largely a “silent” disease with few symptoms or signs before it has reached an advanced stage. As such, the PCP has a critical role in screening and referring patients to the ophthalmologist as part of their overall health care.
According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation it is important to check certain patient regularly for glaucoma. Below is the recommended frequency in which your patients should have their eyes tested:
Anyone with high risk factors should be tested every year or two after age 35
The easiest way to test for Glaucoma in your office is with the Diaton Tonometer. This is the only Glaucoma detection device that allows you to test a patient over the eyelid. Therefore requiring no anesthesia and less discomfort for your patients.
Primary Open Angle Glaucoma (POAG) – It is estimated that 45 million people have OAG worldwide. Glaucoma
(combined OAG and ACG) is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide (8.4 million people). In the US, the prevalence of POAG in adults over the age of 40 is 2%. It is estimated that in 2010 there were 2.2 million people in the U.S. with glaucoma and that with the aging population,
this number will increase to 3.3 million by 2020.
In the U.S. the prevalence of glaucoma in African Americans is three to four times greater than
in Whites. It is the leading cause of blindness in African Americans. Hispanics and Latinos have similar prevalence rates as African Americans. Glaucoma is a more “aggressive” in Blacks where it tends to occur at an earlier age and is more refractory to treatment.11 Hyper-vigilance is warranted in screening African Americans and Hispanics.
Below is a listing of some of the accepted risk factors for glaucoma: