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Safety Harbor Optical Blog—by Dr. Shawn Hollander, OD, PA

Glaucoma—The Sneak Thief of Sight

Glaucoma—The Sneak Thief of Sight

Glaucoma is often called the sneak thief of sight because this disease has no symptoms until it is too late and irreversible vision loss occurs.

Many patients are understandably concerned as to whether or not they have glaucoma, especially when a family history exists. A little history is in order to help understand common truths and fallacies. Years ago, if your eye pressure was greater than 21 you were deemed to have glaucoma and were placed on drops for the rest of your life. Numerous studies have since been conducted and the medical community has a greater understanding of this disease. We know that the majority of individuals with pressure over 21, or ocular hypertension, will not go on to develop glaucoma, although it is still a risk factor and more frequent monitoring needs to be done. Most people equate glaucoma with pressure, and while this is true, a more accurate definition would be that glaucoma is pressure that a given eye cannot tolerate well, and so nerve damage occurs. Lowering pressure, via eye drops, or in some cases with laser surgery, are two ways in which glaucoma is treated.

At Safety Harbor Optical, during an annual wellness exam with Dr. Hollander, your pressure is checked painlessly with a new instrument that takes into account how soft or rigid your cornea—front of your eye—is. This corneal thickness can influence pressure readings. For example, those with very thin corneas are considered at greater risk of developing glaucoma than those with very thick corneas. In addition to knowing about how the cornea influences pressure readings, we also determine the health of the highly important nerve fiber layer. The nerve fiber layer, NFL for short, is comprised of about one million nerve strands whose job it is to carry light or visual information from the eye back to the brain. It is this area of the eye that is affected by a pressure that the eye cannot tolerate. If we find pressures in the high 20s, 30 or above on repeated readings, the odds of developing damage to the NFL are great enough, and pressure lowering medications are prescribed.

The health of the optic nerve is another important piece of the diagnostic puzzle when ruling out or diagnosing glaucoma. Safety Harbor Optical owner/optometrist, Dr. Hollander utilizes the Optomap Daytona which takes a high resolution scan of the retina, including the optic nerve to obtain baseline information which can then be used for future comparison. Most early cases of glaucoma are not black and white in their presentation; rather, they are often in the gray zone where they need to be carefully watched and monitored for any subtle changes of progression. Since age is also a risk factor for developing glaucoma, we strongly recommend yearly annual eye exams. 

Thanks to modern technology, glaucoma can be diagnosed, treated and vision loss prevented. Please get your eyes examined routinely and regularly. We all take our eyes for granted. Contact us at Safety Harbor Optical with any questions on glaucoma: info@SafetyHarborOptical.com

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