New Glaucoma Test: the TV?

Man watching TVIf you have glaucoma, you just might watch the tube a little more differently than the average person. Glaucoma is a range of eye conditions that all have one characteristic in common: damage to the optic nerve. Those who suffer from glaucoma have difficulty seeing an entire picture because their peripheral vision is affected. By testing where people look on a television screen, researchers are actually able to tell whether they are developing glaucoma.

Glaucoma is difficult to diagnose, especially primary open-angle glaucoma, because vision loss is so gradual. Unfortunately, by the time people notice a change in their vision and visit an eye doctor, it is too late and permanent eye damage has already occurred. In advanced stages, primary open-angle glaucoma can even cause tunnel vision.

A research team from the UK conducted a study that compared the vision of 32 healthy people to 44 glaucoma patients. All subjects were given a comprehensive eye exam and the severity of their symptoms was noted. While watching film and television clips, an eye-tracking device evaluated their eye movements and mapped where they were focusing their attention on the screen. The results were compiled to create a group of maps called saccade maps. Researchers were able to conclude from the maps that certain patients were suffering from lost peripheral vision, making glaucoma diagnosis simpler.

These results are not concluding that television viewing ability should be the determining factor in glaucoma diagnosis. This new test is a valid tool for assisting doctors in locating weakness in field of vision, but there are several more necessary tests to help diagnose the disease. Dr. David Crabb, professor of statistics and vision research at City University London, responded to the study saying, “These are early results, but we’ve found we can identify patients with glaucoma by monitoring how people watch TV. This could make a huge difference in detecting or monitoring [glaucoma].”

The National Institute of Health predicts a substantial increase in glaucoma diagnoses in the United States in the coming years and suspects the number of glaucoma sufferers may reach 6 million by 2050. Because most glaucoma is painless and has no symptoms, the best way to prevent glaucoma is through regular comprehensive eye exams. There is one rare type of glaucoma that has very specific symptoms that should not be ignored. Acute closed-angle glaucoma can occur suddenly when eye pressure rises quickly, and it is accompanied by symptoms of eye redness, appearance of halos, nausea, vomiting and severe pain. Most commonly, glaucoma develops slowly which is why it is called the “silent thief of sight” and must be diagnosed by several vision tests (Source: Medical Daily).

Prevention is paramount when it comes to glaucoma. Nothing is more important than a comprehensive eye exam that can help diagnose glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, retinal detachment and many other conditions. Schedule your exam today, or use our physician locator tool to find a qualified eye care professional in your area.

 

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