The eye disease without any warning signs.
Over the years, my patients have approached me with a lot of interesting eye- and health-related questions. One that kept standing out to me was the question of…
Which eye disease was the most dangerous of them all?
Now, my meticulous habit of dissecting a question beyond a simple yes-or-no answer went to work with this inquiry because as we all know, the term “dangerous” is one of danger in and of itself. That too, asking a worker bee of a specific specialty, which ONE is worst of them all, would be as challenging as asking a chef his/her most favorite spice or the case of a child in a candy shop - You can’t just pick one.
Still, leaving such a question unanswered had an unsettling vibe. After much contemplation, my clear answer to the most dangerous eye disease is one that is the most sight threatening - Glaucoma. It’s known as the “Silent Thief of Sight” as it creeps into one’s life like a shadow on a cloudy day, without any warning or symptom.
The most distressing concern about Glaucoma is that once someone has acquired this disease, whatever vision has been lost can never be recovered.
By the time he/she finally has noticed a compromise in his/her vision, it’s an ominous indication that he/she has already lost
more than 50% of his/her vision… and it’s never coming back.
For this reason alone, I stress not only the dangers of Glaucoma, but also the necessity for ruling out the disease in a patient who shows one or more of its risk factors.
Some risk factors include:
Age: Over 60 years old
Exceptions: African Americans over 40 years old
Traumatic glaucoma can occur at any age by blunt trauma or an eye injury
Infantile glaucoma in babies
Ethnicity: More prevalent in black African or black Caribbean descent, Hispanics, and Asians
Family History: A sibling, parent, or grandparent who has Glaucoma
Medical Conditions: Studies indicate diabetes, uncontrolled high blood pressure, and perhaps low blood pressure
Specific Anatomical Features of the Eye
Chronic Steroid Use
There are more reasons to see one’s Eyecare provider on a yearly schedule than just to update his/her eyewear. Although that is an important (and exciting!) part of the eye exam, however, it is also just as necessary to assess the health of one’s eyes on a regular basis. This allows the Eyecare professional the opportunity to rule out all the potentially dangerous eye diseases (not to mention, systemic diseases that can impact the eyes) and ensure that their patients are seeing their best through healthy eyes.