How Do I Manage After Being Diagnosed with Glaucoma?

March 1, 2012

In this video, Joseph Senall, doctor of optometry with Simon Eye Associates, talks about the importance of patients being proactive and consistent with their treatment program to avoid loss of vision from glaucoma.


Glaucoma is a leading cause of irreversible blindness in the U.S. and the world. 

By 2020, health experts say 80 million people worldwide will be diagnosed with this sight-stealing disorder.

Dr. Joseph Senall, Simon Eye Associates:

"In it's simplest form its a disease where the optic nerve inside the eye, which connects the eye to the brain, starts dying off. The cells of the optic nerve start dying. Normally that's associated with elevated pressure inside the eye. But it's not the kind of pressure that a patient can feel so they don't know they have it."

"The only way would know is to be tested for that and also visual field, which is an important component because glaucoma first affects your side vision and then slowly will cause you to become completely blind if it's not caught early enough."

Early diagnosis improves the chance of preserving sight through treatment that can slow or stop vision loss.

Dr. Joseph Senall, Simon Eye Associates:

"So while it's not preventable, it is very treatable. We have wonderful medications now that can lower the pressure and stop the damage or slow the damage significantly so that vision is not lost. And if that's not sufficient, there's also laser and regular surgery in severe cases." 

"The earlier we catch folks and the earlier we are able to treat them the less likely they will ever have an issue with lost vision or any impact on their visual system or their life."

To prevent further vision loss and blindness, glaucoma patients must remain consistent with treatment and follow-up care.

Dr. Joe Senall, Simon Eye Associates:

"When we diagnose a person with glaucoma there's a pretty long conversation about it because they are often very surprised." 

"The things we try to impress on patients when they are diagnosed is, you're not going to have symptoms, you do need to take these drops, if you don't take these drops the vision will slowly decline and eventually you will be completely blind."

"So it's very important that patients come in for their regular checkups. Typically, with a glaucoma patient that's every three months and that's usually checking the pressure, checking the visual field, checking the optic nerve and making sure that they are being compliant to the medicine." 

"One of the biggest concerns is patients just sort of drop out. Sometimes they don't come back to the office. They feel fine. They don't feel bad. They don't have red eyes. They're not blurry. So they kind of think, 'I really don't have to take the drops. I don't have to go back.'"

"But that's the biggest concern--that compliance and stressing that even though you don't know it, you really need to be on this drop for the rest of your life and you need to be in the office to be checking those things or you are going to go blind. "

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