Friday, June 29, 2012

Family History and Glaucoma Screening

You've seen them at the mall or at a health fair, the Glaucoma screening booths. The dreaded "air puff" to check your eye pressure to see if you might have Glaucoma. There are actually lots of different ways to screen for Glaucoma risk, and this is a very active area of research for eye doctors. What's the best way to screen for Glaucoma?

First, a couple of thoughts on what a screening test should do and not do. When you have a disease that is sneaky, like Glaucoma, and it doesn't have any outward symptoms to let you know it is there, sometimes it makes sense to have some kind of test that will let you know that you DO either have the disease or at a high risk to get it. Glaucoma is like this; there are no symptoms in early Glaucoma, and by the time your vision is affected to a point where you know something is wrong it's too late.

A screening test should be easy to do. It should be relatively inexpensive. It shouldn't hurt! The test should be able to identify pretty much anyone who MIGHT have the disease, and it definitely shouldn't miss anyone who actually HAS the disease (a false negative result). In a perfect world the screening test would not falsely find that healthy people have a the test (a false positive result), but we usually accept less accuracy here because we don't want to miss anyone who is at risk.

So how about Glaucoma screening? Well, high pressure is a risk factor for Glaucoma, so identifying people with high pressure will get them referred to an eye doctor which is what we want. There is something called a "nerve fiber analyzer" which will also do the same thing but with a little higher accuracy. Both of these screenings suffer from the expense of the equipment and the need to have trained people doing the test.

It turns out that for Glaucoma there is a really effective screening test that identifies one of the top two risk factors for developing the disease and losing vision: ask someone if they have a family member who has or had Glaucoma! Research has shown that a family history of Glaucoma, especially vision loss from Glaucoma, is the most important risk factor, and that if you DO have a family history you should have a complete Glaucoma examination at the eye doctor's office. Like Skyvision in Cleveland!

Do you have Glaucoma? Tell all of your relatives to have a complete eye exam.


  1. I want to know more about the glaucoma screening
    and how can i get it from the experts of it..

  2. Sure, Brett. The link you left to "Eye Was Framed" Eyecare simply lists the services available from Dr. Tuminello. Was there a specific question about glaucoma screenings that you have that wasn't covered in the post?

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