Local Charity Gives Free Glaucoma Screening to Seniors
An intraocular pressure reading between 10 and 20 mmHg is considered normal. Senior citizens, persons with diabetes, and those of African descent are considerably more likely to have glaucoma, which, according to the Missouri Lions Eye Research Foundation, afflicts more than 46,000 people in Missouri.
The chief problem, according to vision screening technician Jennifer Gallihugh, is that half the people who have the disease don't know it. "They call it the sneak-thief of sight, because a lot of people do not know that they have it until it's too late. At first you get blank spots. They aren't blank spots because your brain fills in the missing pieces. Eventually you get tunnel vision and by that point, most of the damage has been done."
Marvin Alderman, a retired computer programmer for the health department, was screened for high intraocular pressure four months ago. "I had a test then and my pressure was above 20. I got these eye drops that I put in once a day, and my test today showed I had pressures (of) 13 and 14. I guess they're doing their job."
Joanne Pierce, who is also retired, had high intraocular pressure at the screening. "I have an appointment with my doctor tomorrow to get tested for glaucoma. Then a follow up in August to see how I'm doing." Pierce said she was relieved to get the diagnosis now before it affected her vision.
Glaucoma is a result of the eye not draining enough fluid. When the fluid backs up, the optic nerve comes under pressure, and in some cases can start to separate. "Any damage to the optic nerve is irreversible," Gallihugh said, "Prevention is the only cure."