The future of glaucoma detection?
Not that long ago, when a person was found to have glaucoma - the damage already done by the glaucoma in the eye would be so extensive that their vision would be badly affected and the chances of them going partially sighted or registered blind would be high.
Providing that most people over now getting regular eye examinations, glaucoma can normally now be detected early - either by a simple view of the back of the eye with a direct or indirect ophthalmoscope, measuring the pressures of the eyes and checking your visual fields. Loss of visual fields is often the basis of deciding whether glaucoma is present or not, especially when the changes can be linked to visible loss of nerve fibres at the back of the eye - normally around the optic nerve where it enters the back of the eye (optic disc and dsc cupping).
Without regular eye examinations, loss of visual field has to be extreme to cause symptoms and be noticed especially if you have two "good" eyes as each eye supplements the other. You can lose up to 70% of your nerve cells and nerve fibres at the back of the eye before you would notice it and such changes are irreversible. It is essential to detect visual field changes and nerve fibre loss as early as possible.
In the last two years, Mackey Opticians have invested in four OCT - 3D laser scanners that can detect the loss of nerve fibres before they start affecting visual fields - simply by having a regular scan along with your routine eye examination. If you have an eye examination at one of our practices that doesn't have an OCT as yet, they can refer you to your nearest Mackey Opticians for the scan only and this can be reviewed by your optometrist. You can detect such changes up to five years before they show as significant visual field loss.
Today the BBC highlighted the possible future of early glaucoma detection although using a fluorescent marker that stuck to the dying retinal nerve fibre cells and highlighted them more early. This needs an injection however so is unlikely to be available as a screening service for many years to come. For more information see the BBC report below.
You can be reassured however that having regular eye examinations at Mackey Opticians will help detect early signs of glaucoma before they start significantly affecting your sight - and through eye drops, hopefully any future damage can be stopped or limited. Make sure that everyone has a regular eye examination over 40 years of age - even if you just use ready readers or don't use glasses any more for whatever reason. Your eye health may depend on it.