Understanding Glaucoma & the Value of a Comprehensive Eye Exam
Are you ready for the New Year? Resolutions for better health often include eating better, exercising, and cutting down on sugar intake. While many people have resolutions to improve their health, they tend to not include an annual medical physical, 6 month dental visits and an annual eye exam.
Vision, a priceless gift often taken for granted, can be threatened by silent conditions like glaucoma. Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve, often leading to irreversible vision loss and is often referred to as the Thief of Sight. According to the National Eye Institute, “Glaucoma is a leading cause of vision loss and blindness in the United States. But half of people with glaucoma don’t know they have it.
Glaucoma has no early symptoms. The only way to check for it is to get a comprehensive dilated eye exam. There’s no cure for glaucoma but starting treatment as early as possible can help stop vision loss.”
Glaucoma is a complex eye condition characterized by increased intraocular pressure (IOP), which can damage the optic nerve over time. The optic nerve is responsible for transmitting visual information from the eyes to the brain. When damaged, it can result in peripheral vision loss that often goes unnoticed until significant damage has occurred.
There are different types of glaucoma, with primary open-angle glaucoma being the most common. However, other forms, such as angle-closure glaucoma and normal-tension glaucoma, also exist. The risk factors for glaucoma include age, family history, elevated intraocular pressure, and certain medical conditions like diabetes.
The Importance of Dilated Eye Exams:
- Early Detection: Dilated eye exams involve the use of eye drops to enlarge the pupils, allowing the doctors at Bissell Eye Care to get a clear view of the optic nerve and retina. This enables early detection of signs of glaucoma, such as optic nerve cupping or changes in the optic nerve head.
- Comprehensive Assessment: Unlike standard eye exams or screenings that only evaluate visual acuity, dilated eye exams provide a more comprehensive assessment of the overall eye health. They help identify not only glaucoma but also other conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, and retinal detachments.
- Pressure Measurement: Dilated exams allow for accurate measurement of intraocular pressure. While elevated pressure is a risk factor for glaucoma, not everyone with glaucoma has high intraocular pressure, making the comprehensive assessment crucial for diagnosis.
- Monitoring Progression: For individuals diagnosed with glaucoma, dilated eye exams are important for monitoring the progression of the disease. Regular evaluations help adjust treatment plans, ensuring that the condition is effectively managed to prevent further vision loss.
- Risk Reduction: Dilated eye exams empower the doctors at Bissell Eye Care to identify and address risk factors that may contribute to glaucoma development or progression. This proactive approach aids in implementing preventive measures, such as lifestyle changes or early interventions.
Comprehensive eye exams that are performed by an optometrist are designed to not only evaluate your visual acuity, but also to check the overall health of your eye. As an added health bonus, your optometrist can also detect early signs of health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke risk; all based on the appearance of the delicate blood vessels and other structures within the eye.
As the New Year brings about resolve to change, consider your body’s overall health. Scheduling annual eye exams at Bissell Eye Care, but also to your medical doctor for a yearly physical can help to keep your body in top shape and provide early detection of any medical conditions before they become serious problems. Here’s to a healthy and happy 2024!
About Bissell Eye Care: John D. Bissell, OD owns and operates Bissell Eye Care servicing Northern Pittsburgh and Alle-Kiski Valley regions. With two locations to treat patients, we offer evening and Saturday appointments. Bissell Eye Care provides comprehensive eye examinations for the entire family beginning as early as 6 months, ocular disease detection and treatment, eyeglasses, sunglasses, activewear, contact lenses, and low vision examinations for those with significant vision loss. We accept most types of vision and health insurance plans. For more information, visit bisselleyecare.com or call our Bakerstown Office at 724-443-6767 or Natrona Heights office at 724-226-0444.