Does everyone need to be screened for glaucoma?

Does everyone need to be screened for glaucoma?

A new recommendation from a panel of experts suggests that adults without vision problems may not need to screen for glaucoma in primary care settings.

According to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), there aren’t enough benefits to perform the test for this category of people. The USPSTF also says there is no evidence that shows that glaucoma screening can reduce the possibility of developing blindness or vision loss.

Dr. Albert Siu, co-vice chairman of the task force, emphasizes that glaucoma is a serious disease that does affect millions of Americans, but expressed concerns about the screening process.

“Glaucoma is a serious disease that can cause vision problems and blindness in millions of Americans,” Siu, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, we don’t have enough evidence to know how best to screen for the disease and who would benefit from screening in the primary care setting.”

Siu adds that new treatments for glaucoma have been created, but they have yet to come to a determination on why adults without vision problems should in fact get screened.

The task force suggests that adults with vision problems should see their primary care doctor or eye care specialist to decide what type of tests and treatments are right for them.

What is glaucoma?
The U.S. National Eye Institute (NEI) defines glaucoma as a disease that damages the optic nerve. This can lead to vision loss or blindness.

According to the NEI, glaucoma can develop in either one or both eyes.

The most common form of this eye disease is primary open-angled glaucoma that affects more than 2.5 million people in the U.S. People may not have any symptoms of this type of this disease until the glaucoma is advanced.

Are you at risk?
Anyone has the possibility of developing glaucoma, but according to the NEI some people are at a higher risk. The most common characteristics include:

  • Adults over 60 years old
  • Specifically African Americans (over 40) and Mexican Americans
  • Having a family history of glaucoma

Dr. Harit K. Bhatt, an ophthalmologist and vitreoretinal surgeon at Advocate Christ Medical Center, in Oak Lawn, Ill., says discovering vision problems sooner than later, is essential to keeping your vision strong.

“It’s important for everyone over 40 years of age to have a comprehensive eye exam that includes dilation,” he says. “Dilation of the eye is done using eye drops and allows proper examination of the retina.”

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.