Researchers May Have Identified Early Indicator for Glaucoma

Changes in the blood vessels in the retinas may be a warning that a person is at an increased risk for glaucoma, according to the results of a recent study.

Glaucoma is a series of conditions that contribute to optic nerve damage and lead to vision loss. The findings of a recent study, which were published in the online edition of Ophthalmology, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, indicate that an abnormal narrowing of retinal arteries is likely a sign that a person faces a heightened risk for developing glaucoma.

Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of glaucoma, and it is one of the leading causes of vision loss. Individuals with open-angle glaucoma rarely exhibit any obvious symptoms until the onset of vision loss, which makes the results of this new study especially exciting.

If additional research confirms narrowed retinal blood vessels as a predictor for glaucoma, eye doctors would have a new diagnostic tool for identifying those at risk for glaucoma and beginning early glaucoma treatment. Although there is currently no cure for glaucoma, there are treatments that can slow its progress and help preserve your vision.

If you have questions about glaucoma or would like to schedule an eye exam, please use the Find a Doctor page to locate an experienced ophthalmologist near you.

Vision Organizations Challenge Federal Glaucoma Report

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and the American Glaucoma Society (AGS) are challenging a federal review stating there is neither a clear link between glaucoma treatment and visual impairment, nor is there sufficient evidence supporting that open-angle glaucoma screenings can affect the condition’s eventual progression.

The review was conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), and its findings potentially impact Medicare and private insurance coverage for existing glaucoma treatments designed to limit the symptoms of glaucoma and slow its development. “We did not find direct or indirect links between glaucoma screening and visual field loss, visual impairment, optic nerve damage, intraocular pressure and patient-reported outcomes,” the report reads. “… there is limited evidence that screening for (open-angle glaucoma) can reduce intermediate or final health outcomes including visual impairment and optic nerve function.”

Open-angle glaucoma is thought to affect at least 2 million Americans. While there is no cure, there are glaucoma treatment options including eye drops and surgery that have proven effective for many patients.

The AAO and AGS have asked for evidence to be re-examined, citing what the organizations believe are errors in the manner in which data was reviewed and evaluated.

“The AHRQ reviews and recommendations for screening and treatment of glaucoma fail to properly weigh the overall effectiveness of proven methods of patient care, and therefore could have significant negative social impact on the medical community’s ability to control the disease,” said a press release from the AAO.

If you have questions about glaucoma and your glaucoma treatment options, please contact to locate an experienced eye doctor near you.