Must know facts about glaucoma
All around the world approximately 70 million people suffer from glaucoma. Glaucoma is the second most common cause of blindness in developed countries. As in case of any other disease, there are many myths and unverified statements about glaucoma. HMC’s ophthalmologists have gathered the most important fact about glaucoma, that everyone should know.
50% of glaucoma patients aren’t aware of their illness
Results of multiple scientific research conducted in the last several years have shown that approximately 50% of the participants had glaucoma and weren’t aware of it. This discovery is very significant since timely diagnosis and correct early treatment largely increase the chances of keeping a good eyesight throughout the patient’s whole life. Undiagnosed glaucoma, however, progresses slowly causing loss of sight and discovery at rather late stages.
Unfortunately, early diagnosis of glaucoma is problematic due to the lack of pain symptoms and the slow and gradual loss of sight. This fact proves once again how important ophthalmologic follow-up is. It is recommended that you visit a specialist for a routine check-up at the age of 40, after 50 follow up is recommended every several years.
There is no direct link between high intraocular pressure and glaucoma
It is a common misconception that high intraocular pressure causes glaucoma while its normal rates are a guarantee against the disease. Unfortunately, this belief is far from being true.
Normal intraocular pressure is 21 millimeters of mercury (mmHg), however, many people show pressure levels much higher than that without having glaucoma and vice versa. The link between intraocular pressure and glaucoma states that the higher the pressure, the bigger the risk of getting glaucoma in the future, however, it is not the only factor.
The only diagnostic sign of glaucoma are changes in the optic nerve, which can only be discovered during an ophthalmologic examination by a specialist. So, when going to an ophthalmologist ask not only about the intraocular pressure but also about the optic nerve.
Less cases of blindness due to glaucoma
While glaucoma is still one of the main reasons for blindness, recent studies have shown that the risk of completely losing your eyesight has diminished.
A comprehensive long-lasting study conducted in the USA has found that the risk of complete blindness as a result of glaucoma has decreased by 50% in the last few years. An Israeli study on the subject found that the amount of formally acknowledged blindness cases due to glaucoma has decreased by 20%. These results can be explained by a significant improvement in the diagnostic and therapeutic methods. Another equally important factor is the dedicated work and efforts of the ophthalmologists in raising the awareness and spreading the information regarding the possible dangers of glaucoma, which have led to a higher rate of early diagnosis.
Glaucoma treatment is a specialty in its own
While any ophthalmologist can diagnose, treat and follow up on a patient with glaucoma, there are some doctors that have made it their expertise: highly qualified physicians who have completed multiple fellowships and conducted studies on the subject of glaucoma. A special professional organization (the Israeli Association of Glaucoma) unites over 50 of Israel’s glaucoma specialists. Members of the association participate in specialized research, they are the first to apply the newest glaucoma treatment techniques and teach their colleagues, and are always in touch with their fellow specialists from all around the world.
Israel’s best ophthalmologists are available to you at HMC’s ophthalmology department.