When Glaucoma Runs in the Family

by Dr. Lisa Shin

A 38 year old healthy male needed more contact lenses and came in for an eye examination.   Review of his medical history was normal, but he reported that his mother was currently being treated for glaucoma.  Corrected vision was 20/20 in both eyes.    The pressures in his eyes were measured to be 29 in his right eye and 39 in his left eye.   Dilation revealed a suspicious optic nerve appearance in both eyes.   Peripheral vision testing revealed normal fields in his right eye, but borderline fields in his left eye.  Given family history, his elevated intraocular pressures, optic nerve appearance, and peripheral vision testing, I made the decision to start a glaucoma medication in his left eye only.  He is being monitored closely through follow-up care.

Normal pressures range between 12-22, so his pressures were another risk factor for glaucoma.   Glaucoma is a multi-factorial, complex eye condition that results in optic nerve damage.  If left untreated, glaucoma causes progressive vision loss that starts off as blind spots in your peripheral vision, and ends with tunnel vision and total blindness.   Unfortunately, there are no warning signs, no pain, or even a hint that anything is wrong.    Early treatment and intervention is necessary to effectively preserve vision.

This nerve is suspicious for glaucoma.   Risk factors are taken into account before treatment is prescribed.

This nerve is suspicious for glaucoma. Risk factors are taken into account before treatment is prescribed.