All eyes on preventative tactics during Glaucoma Awareness Month


All eyes seem to be trained upon glaucoma as of late, with numerous surveys and studies attempting to dilate the condition to the point of cure, or at least clarity.

For researchers like Paul Mitchell, MD, PhD, of the Centre for Vision Research, University of Sydney, and his team, a surefire way to block glaucoma progression is to read the early signs. A recent study led by Mitchell found that particular changes in retinal blood vessels can provide cues regarding a patient’s disease susceptibility.

Research participants — 2,500 in total — who had rather narrow retinal arteries at the onset of the Mitchell’s Australian Blue Mountains Eye Study were, 10 years later, discovered to have glaucoma. Although not all patients with narrow arteries later developed the condition, compared to those with the most wide-set arteries, such participants were four times more likely to be diagnosed with glaucoma.

"Our results suggest that a computer-based imaging tool designed to detect narrowing of the retinal artery caliber, or diameter, could effectively identify those who are most at risk for open-angle glaucoma," Mitchell said in a news release. "Such a tool would also need to account for blood pressure and other factors that can contribute to blood vessel changes. Early detection would allow ophthalmologists to treat patients before optic nerve damage occurs and would give us the best chance of protecting their vision."

With approximately three million people in the U.S. and 60 million people worldwide struggling with the “sneak thief of sight,” now more than ever is the time for physicians to encourage regular eye exams for their clientele.

The month of January, Glaucoma Awareness Month, also marks the release of the American Optometric Association’s (AOA) latest American Eye-Q consumer survey, the most prominent results of which are featured below.

Figure 1:

All data and information from the American Optometric Association’s (AOA) latest American Eye-Q consumer survey. Presentation by PhysBizTech.

Figure 2:

All data and information from the American Optometric Association’s (AOA) latest American Eye-Q consumer survey. Presentation by PhysBizTech.

Figure 3:

All data and information from the American Optometric Association’s (AOA) latest American Eye-Q consumer survey. Presentation by PhysBizTech.

According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, physicians should watch out for patients with the following risk factors: patients who have a family history of glaucoma, hypothyroidism, are over age 60, or individuals who have had severe eye trauma. The foundation also notes that “glaucoma is six to eight times more common in African Americans than Caucasians.” 

Find resources to relinquish to patients regarding glaucoma from the AOA here.

The Australian Blue Mountains Eye Study was published in the latest online edition of Ophthalmology, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.