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Glaucoma Screening Saves Sight

Regular Eye Check-Ups, Early Treatment Are Key

WebMD Health News

Oct. 14, 2002 -- Regular eye check-ups and early treatment of glaucoma could save your eyesight. A new study confirms what many experts had suspected: immediate treatment to lower the pressure inside the eye can slow glaucoma damage and prevent vision loss.

Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness, especially among older adults and blacks. In the most common form of the disease, called open-angle glaucoma, the optic nerve located in the back of the eye slowly becomes damaged and causes a gradual loss of vision.

"Unfortunately, glaucoma has no early warning signs, and many affected patients are unaware they have the disease until it has advanced. Once people have lost vision from glaucoma, it cannot be regained," says Paul Slaving, MD, PhD, director of the National Eye Institute in a news release.

"However, early detection and timely treatment would help to save the vision of thousands of people each year," says Slaving.

In the study of 255 patients over 50 with early stage glaucoma, about half of the patients were treated immediately with medications and lasers to lower the pressure within the eye and the other half were left untreated. Researchers followed both groups closely and checked every three months for changes in vision or disease progression.

The findings appear in the October issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology.

After about six years of follow-up, the researchers found disease progression was less frequent and significantly later in the treated group than in the untreated group (45% vs. 62%). -->

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