HALF OF THOSE WITH GLAUCOMA DON'T KNOW IT
Learn risk factors for blinding eye disease
Approximately 2.7 million Americans have the potentially blinding eye disease glaucoma, but only half are aware of it. Meanwhile, glaucoma incidence is on the rise. Researchers predict that glaucoma will affect as many as 6.3 million Americas by 2050.
During Glaucoma Awareness Month, the California Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons (CAEPS) and the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) are sharing a list of disease risk factors.
“It is imperative that people understand the precursors to this debilitating disease,” said Troy R. Elander, MD, CAEPS President. “If you are at risk, then getting an exam from an ophthalmologist as soon as possible can help protect you from vision loss.”
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve, which links the eyes to the brain. It is most commonly associated with elevated pressure inside the eye, known as intraocular pressure, or IOP. Without treatment, glaucoma can cause irreversible vision loss in a person’s side vision, then in his or her central vision. With early diagnosis and treatment, sight can be preserved. However, glaucoma has no noticeable symptoms in its early stages, so it is imperative that people know the risk factors.
Certain factors can increase an individual’s risk of developing glaucoma, including:
Additionally, when the cornea – the clear, round dome on the front of the eye that covers the iris and pupil – is abnormally thin, IOP readings may be falsely low. This puts patients at increased risk for undiagnosed glaucoma. This is common among those who have had refractive surgery, such as LASIK or photorefractive keratectomy. Another risk factor associated with glaucoma is a history of eye trauma.
“Many of my patients are surprised to learn that one or more of these factors put them at an increased risk,” said Andrew Iwach, M.D., a clinical spokesperson for the AAO and a glaucoma specialist. “Being aware of your personal risk of glaucoma is the first step to saving your sight.”
Glaucoma treatment ranges from medicated eye drops to a variety of surgeries that can help reduce high IOP. This may involve procedures that make small changes in the eye to help fluid drain more easily. In some cases, small devices known as shunts or stents are inserted in the eye to increase the flow of the eye’s fluid out of the eye.
People age 65 or older and concerned about their eye disease risk may be eligible for a medical eye exam at no out-of-pocket cost through EyeCare America™, a program of the Foundation of the AAO. In addition, those who are at an increased risk for glaucoma may also qualify for a glaucoma exam through EyeCare America. This public service program matches volunteer ophthalmologists with eligible patients in need across the United States. To see if you, your friends or family members are eligible, visit www.eyecareamerica.org.
To learn more about glaucoma, its risk factors and its treatment, visit www.geteyesmart.org.
DON'T 'SHOOT YOUR EYE OUT' THIS HOLIDAY SEASON
Keep eye safety in mind when choosing gifts for the holidays
As the holidays approach, parents across the United States are joining the rush to fulfill their children’s wish lists, but many might not realize some popular children’s toys can cause serious injuries related to vision. This shopping season, the California Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons (CAEPS) and the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) are encouraging parents to be cautious when it comes to purchasing safe toys for their children.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, nearly 252,000 toy-related injuries were treated in emergency rooms in 2014, and nearly half of these injuries affect the head or face. In fact, about 1 in 10 children's eye injuries treated in the emergency room trace back to toys. Some propelling toys, like airsoft guns, arrows, BB guns, paintball guns and darts can be particularly hazardous, with the potential to cause serious eye injuries such as corneal abrasion, ocular hyphema (blood inside the clear part of the eye that obscures the iris and pupil), traumatic cataract, increased eye pressure, and even permanent vision loss.
“For many, it’s merely a memorable scene in the holiday classic, A Christmas Story, in which Ralphie’s request for a Red Ryder Air Riffle is met with skepticism as his mother and others caution, ‘you’ll shoot your eye out, kid.’ But in reality, some hazardous toys are a real concern because they do cause countless eye injuries each year,” said Leah Levi, MD, CAEPS President. “When it comes to yours and your children’s vision, you can never be too careful, so we recommend playing it safe when it comes to toy shopping this holiday season.”
The good news is that most eye injuries can be easily prevented by following toy safety tips supported by both Academies:
If your child experiences an eye injury from a toy, seek immediate medical attention from an ophthalmologist – a medical doctor specializing in the diagnosis, medical and surgical treatment of eye diseases and conditions. For more information about keeping eyes healthy during the holidays and all year round, visit the AAO's public education website at www.geteyesmart.org.
Regular Eye Exams Can Help Save Sight of Diabetics
The California Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons (CAEPS) and the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) are reminding older Americans with diabetes that they should obtain these critical eye exams each year.
These eye exams allow early detection, monitoring and, if needed, treatment of diabetic eye disease. This can prevent unnecessary vision loss, enabling people with diabetes to continue to live full and productive lives. Such exams also allow checking for conditions such as glaucoma and cataracts, for which people with diabetes are at an increased risk.
For those with Medicare, the program covers 80 percent of the cost of eye exams for people with diabetes and the remaining 20 percent is typically paid for by the patient. If this cost is a concern, EyeCare America may be able to help. This is a public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. It can help older Americans get a comprehensive eye exam and up to one year of care at no out-of-pocket cost. Learn more or see if you or your loved one qualifies at www.eyecareamerica.org.
NURSE PRACTITIONER AND OPTOMETRIC SURGERY SCOPE BILLS STALL IN ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE
the strong advocacy efforts of CAEPS, the California Medical Association,
the American Academy of Ophthalmology, and other specialty societies
including the California Academy of Family Physicians, bills that would have given California Nurse
Practitioners and Optometrists sweeping new privileges failed to advance from
the Assembly Business and Professions Committee at its final meeting for the
year on July 14th. The bills are therefore no longer eligible for
consideration in 2015, but can be heard again next year.
above listed groups opposed the bills based on patient safety concerns.
SB 323 (Hernandez) would have allowed Nurse Practitioners the ability to practice without physician supervision in some settings and to perform procedures "recognized by the nursing profession as appropriate," without any specific training requirements.
SB 622 (Hernandez), would have allowed pathways to optometric surgery, with unacceptable amounts of training:
for your efforts to help us protect patient safety.