World Glaucoma Week: A Peek at your Eyes

Posted on March 10, 2019 by kerri
The faint ticky/beepy sound of the instrument used to check your eye pressure is hard to explain, but you can no doubt hear it in your head if you’ve stared down this instrument before—the white dot on the end of the pen that a doctor, nurse or technician hovers right at your eyeball as you try not to blink at the blue light so they can measure the pressure inside your eyes. The test is done after you receive eyedrops to “freeze” your eyes—which does not necessarily make it easier not to blink, it just makes it so you don’t feel the rounded pencil-like tip as it makes contact with your eye. The test can also be done using a puff of air.
“16 and 17” the nurse said to me, as I awaited my vision to start blurring from the previously administered dilation drops.
What the heck do those numbers even mean, I wondered for the first time.
Eye pressures and glaucoma
I was walked to the second waiting room and pulled out my phone, quickly checking on normal eye pressure numbers before my vision blurred enough I had to put VoiceOver on to continue to use my phone while waiting.
Eye pressures are considered normal if they are between 10 and 21 mmHg. [1]
Eye pressures that are above 21 mmHg are usually indicative of glaucoma [1], a condition where increased intraocular (inside the eyeball) pressure can affect the optic nerve and lead to vision loss or blindness. [2] In early stages, glaucoma often has no symptoms [1], which is why regular screening and treating glaucoma promptly once it is identified is so important.
Who is at risk for glaucoma?
I have retinopathy of prematurity and am very nearsighted as a result—with greater nearsightedness comes greater risk of developing glaucoma. [3] Retinopathy of prematurity, as well as other eye conditions like decreased corneal thickness, also increase risk of developing glaucoma. [34] This is why I’ve been regularly screened since childhood, and why I am commonly the youngest person by a decade or two (or more) in my ophthalmologist’s office! Fortunately, my eyes have remained fairly stable and I continue to visit my ophthalmologist with hopes of reports of only good news reporting as such!
Other risk factors for glaucoma are [3]:
  • Being over age 45
  • Having a family member with glaucoma (another check for me)
  • Being of Black racial ancestry
  • Having diabetes
  • Having a history of elevated eye pressure
  • History of eye injury
  • Being farsighted (higher risk of acute angle-closure glaucoma)
  • Being nearsighted (higher risk of open angle glaucoma) [5]
Typically, glaucoma screening should take place every 1-2 years depending on your risk factors of glaucoma. [6] While an ophthalmologist will be the one to treat glaucoma in most cases, many optometry practices are equipped to assess patients for glaucoma and refer to an ophthalmologist as necessary. This is most often considered a routine part of an eye exam.
Glaucoma Medical ID Jewelry
If you have lost vision as result of glaucoma, wearing medical ID jewelry stating that you are visually impaired may help in an emergency—for instance, if you are confused or in shock and state that your vision is hazy or blurry, this may be normal for you but cause alarm for medical personnel!
Our selection of medical ID jewelry can be customized to your needs, such as for a glaucoma medical alert bracelet, and comes with a free wallet card to list medications you may be taking, such as eye drops for glaucoma.
And remember, its World Glaucoma Week—if it’s been more than two years since your last eye exam, take a few minutes this week to book a check-up for a peek at your eyes—to ensure they can see everything you need them to, and will stay that way!

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