New York, NY, June 27, 2022 — People who wear eyeglasses or contact lenses, or have an eye condition that needs regular monitoring, are likely scheduling routine eye exams already. But for those who’ve never had trouble with their vision, around age 40 is the time to begin regular eyecare appointments because they may be experiencing vision impairment that they’re not even aware of, warns Dr. Daniel Laroche, Director of Glaucoma Services and President of Advanced Eyecare of New York; and Ivy League trained, board certified, Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai.
The most common vision impairment as people age is presbyopia — the need for reading glasses. But far more serious conditions like glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, and retinopathy can begin to surface between the ages of 40 and 70.
“Over time, these diseases can lead to blindness, so it’s best to address them as soon as possible,” said Dr. Laroche. “We have new treatments with earlier surgical options that can help preserve (or restore) their vision with faster recovery times.
Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in African Americans and people from the Caribbean, and the simple way to prevent the devastating effects of glaucoma is to maintain regular eye visits.
What is Glaucoma? Glaucoma is a disease of the eye characterized by three components:
1. Damage and loss of the retinal ganglions cells and optic nerve described as cupping
2. Loss of visual field
3. Usually increased eye pressure (the mean normal eye pressure is 15mmHG)
In most cases of glaucoma, there is no pain, and the loss of vision occurs slowly from peripheral to central. Many people do not even realize it’s happening until they have lost a substantial amount of peripheral vision.
People at risk for glaucoma include the elderly, Black people, people with elevated eye pressure, primary relatives with glaucoma, persons with high myopia, high hyperopia, history of eye trauma, and diabetes.
All people should be screened regularly for glaucoma as part of a medical eye exam that includes gonioscopy (examination of the drainage angle), intraocular pressure measurement with Goldmann applanation tonometry, and a dilated optic nerve examination.
The mean normal eye pressure is 15mmHG. The mean intraocular pressure in patients with untreated glaucoma is 18mmHG. The most identifiable cause of this elevated pressure is the age related enlargement of the lens in the eye. Newer and safer early cataract surgery and microinvasive glaucoma surgery can help prevent blindness from glaucoma, improve vision and reduce the need for eyedrops.
If you have eye pressure or glaucoma and feel that you may be losing vision, Dr. Laroche recommends that you seek the care of a glaucoma specialist for a second opinion. DON’T GO BLIND FROM GLAUCOMA! People with conditions such as glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy that could lead to blindness if left unchecked need to stay particularly vigilant with checkups.
“Eyesight or human vision is one of the most important senses,” Dr. LaRoche said. “As much as 80 percent of what we feel comes through our sense of sight. By protecting the eyes, people will reduce the chance of blindness and vision loss while also staying on top of any developing eye diseases, such as glaucoma and cataracts.”
Written by: Alvina Alston