Sunday, January 4, 2015

Glaucoma Eye Exams in the New Year


As we begin 2015, January marks national Glaucoma Awareness Month. With this in mind we want to take a minute to remind patients, their families and friends about the importance of regular eye exams and testing for glaucoma.  The most effective way to prevent vision loss from glaucoma is through early detection, diagnosis and treatment. This is why we stress the importance of glaucoma eye exams-especially for those who have risk factors such as any family history of glaucoma or high eye pressure (IOP) diabetes, high blood pressure, vascular disease of any type, the early onset of menopause, sleep apnea and those who are smokers-all of which increase your risk of developing glaucoma.  This is even more important if you are of African-American or Hispanic descent as this can further increase the risks.

About Eye Exams for Glaucoma 
Eye exams for glaucoma should begin by checking your visual acuity with and without your eyeglasses or contact lenses. Then, the tonometry test should be performed. This is a method of measuring your Intraocular Pressure (IOP) and gives the eye doctors the first piece of important information in determining whether you might have glaucoma. Ophthalmoscopy and high magnifications slit lamp biomicroscopy are other exam procedures used to evaluate the health of the optic nerve and detect glaucoma. It is necessary to have some eye drops placed in your eyes in order to dilate your pupils so that the doctors can make a clear and direct observation of the optic nerve.

Glaucoma Tests
If either the Intraocular Pressure (IOP) is elevated or the optic nerve appears unusual, additional tests will be necessary in order to complete the glaucoma examination. These may include Visual Field Perimetry, Gonioscopy, Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) and Pachymetry. Should you need any of these tests we will fully explain them to you and answer your questions so that you understand how they help us to diagnose glaucoma. If you are under 40 years of age and do not have any of the above risk factors, then having a glaucoma eye examination every two years should be sufficient.

If you have any glaucoma risk factors, or are over 40, then a glaucoma eye exam each year-or even more often if we see anything troubling- is recommended.If you or someone you know has a question about glaucoma, glaucoma eye exams or glaucoma tests please call Northwest Indiana Eye & Laser Center at 219-464-8223, or visit Northwest Indiana Eye & Laser Center or facebook.com/nwindianaeyeandlaser to schedule an eye exam. Northwest Indiana Eye & Laser Center offices are located at 502 Marquette Street, Valparaiso, Indiana 46383 and 1001 South Edgewood Drive, Knox, Indiana 46354.