ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Folic Acid Might Offer Allergy Relief
Know Your Asthma Triggers
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
U.S. Spends Billions On Alternative Medicine
Massage Therapy Helps Those With Advanced Cancer
No Verdict Yet on Grape Seed Extract vs. Breast Cancer
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Beware of Dog Bites
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Low Vitamin D Raises Women's Hip Fracture Risk
High Birth Weight Doubles Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Vitamin K Doesn't Slow Bone Loss
CANCER
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Scams and Shams That Prey on Cancer Patients
Supplement Hampers Thyroid Cancer Treatment
CAREGIVING
Undoing the 'Big Baby' Trend
Bariatric Surgery Centers Don't Deliver Better Outcomes
Timing May Matter in Organ Donation Decisions
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
COSMETIC
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
DENTAL, ORAL
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
Most Insured Adults Worry About Health Care Costs: Poll
Gum Disease Might Boost Cancer Risk
DIABETES
Spices, Herbs Boost Health for Diabetics
Insulin Resistance Tied to Peripheral Artery Disease
Red-Grape Compound May Improve Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
To Feel Better, Low-Fat Diet May Be Best
Probiotics Are The Good Guys
Myrrh May Lower High Cholesterol
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Restaurant Sushi May Have More Mercury Than Store-Bought Fare
Dementia Underestimated in Developing Countries
Small Doses of Carbon Monoxide Might Help Stroke Victims
EYE CARE, VISION
Eye Disease, Cognitive Decline Linked in Study
Clues Found to Brain Mechanism Behind Migraines
Kids' Eye Injuries From Golf Clubs Rare But Severe
FITNESS
Exercise Keeps the Brain Young
Tai Chi: An Ideal Exercise for Many People with Diabetes
The 3LS Wellness Program for Reversing Chronic Symptoms and Creating Lasting Health
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
GENERAL HEALTH
To Quit Smoking, Try Logging On
Internet Program Helps Problem Drinkers
Less Education May Mean Poorer Health
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Dark Chocolate May Lower Stroke Risk
Brown Rice Tied to Better Heart Health in Study
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Decline of Underweight Children in U.S. Continue to Fall
Music May Temper Pain in Preemies
Protect Your Kids From Swine Flu While at Camp
MEN'S HEALTH
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
A Little Alcohol May Stave Off Alzheimer's
Love Hormone May Ease Discussion of Painful Topics
The Unmedicated Mind
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
SENIORS
Tai Chi May Help Ward Off Knee Pain in Seniors
Martial Arts Training May Save Seniors' Hips
Mediterranean Diet Plus Exercise Lowers Alzheimer's Risk
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Rheumatoid Arthritis Rising Among U.S. Women
Exercise, Weight Control May Keep Fibromyalgia at Bay
Lifting Weights Can Ease Arm Swelling in Breast Cancer Survivors
Add your Article

Glaucoma Treatment Can Prevent Blindness

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, July 2 (HealthDay News) -- Glaucoma doesn't necessarily have to end in blindness, two new studies suggest.

In one report, researchers say they found traditional surgery for glaucoma has better outcomes than using glaucoma drainage devices. The second report found that even patients with end-stage glaucoma can be successfully treated. Both studies were published in the July issue of Ophthalmology.

In the first report, researchers looked at the number of complications from traditional glaucoma surgery versus complications from inserting a device that drains fluid from the eye.

"We found a higher complication rate for glaucoma drainage devices than for traditional surgery," said lead researcher Frank Sloan, the Alexander McMahon Professor of Health Policy and Management at Duke University. "Of course, adverse outcomes for either procedure are rare."

In deciding between the two procedures, physicians will have to balance the risks versus the benefits, Sloan said. "It's good for ophthalmologists to have these outcome rates in mind when they counsel patients," he said.

In the study, Sloan and his colleagues collected data on 14,491 Medicare patients with glaucoma. These patients all underwent one of three surgeries. These included primary trabeculectomy (PT), trabeculectomy after scarring from previous surgery or trauma (TS), or the implanting of a glaucoma drainage device (GDD).

All these surgeries are designed to improve the drainage of fluid from the eye and reduce intraocular pressure. In trabeculectomy, a small portion of the tissue at the base of the cornea is removed to increase fluid flow, and in GDD a tiny shunt is implanted, which redirects fluid flow.

Sloan's group found that all of procedures had few adverse outcomes. However, GDD resulted in more patients progressing to low vision or blindness (2.6 percent), compared with patients who underwent PT (1 percent) or TS (1.3 percent).

Dr. Robert Cykiert, an ophthalmologist at New York University Medical Center and a clinical associate professor of ophthalmology at New York University School of Medicine in New York City, said that this study "says that one should try trabeculectomy procedure first, if you can."

In these patients, "experience and intuition says that additional trabeculectomy surgery usually won't work. That's why we go to a glaucoma drainage device," Cykiert said. "This study indicates that if there's any belief you can get away with doing a trabeculectomy procedure, you are better off doing that then putting in the drainage device."

These results will make people a little more conservative, Cykiert said. "Some glaucoma specialists jump ahead to the glaucoma drainage device sooner than they might or should," he noted.

In the second study, Dr. Jason W. Much, from the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, and his colleagues looked at the charts of 64 patients with end-stage glaucoma. All these patients were considered legally blind at the start of the study.

All patients underwent trabeculectomy or laser trabeculoplasty, where tissue is removed by laser. The researchers found that, despite impaired vision, these patients did not become blind.

"Relentless progression to [complete] blindness is not the norm in treated patients," Much said in a statement. "Patients should be encouraged that treatment is not futile. They may retain their visual acuity for many years and be able to perform simple tasks of daily living and enjoy reading and hobbies."

Cykiert said this study contradicts what has been thought for a long time. "The thinking has been that treating patients with end-stage glaucoma is often unsuccessful, because they wind up losing their vision," he explained.

The conventional wisdom has been that once optic nerve was damaged beyond a certain point, no matter what one did, the nerve would eventually die, Cykiert said.

"This study shows that's not the case, even people with end-stage glaucoma, if you treat them aggressively and follow them carefully, you can preserve that little amount of vision that's left," Cykiert said.

Glaucoma is a disease that damages the optic nerve, which if untreated will eventually lead to blindness. Glaucoma is detected by an intraocular pressure test. When the pressure climbs above 21 millimeters of mercury, glaucoma is present.

There are several types of glaucoma. The most common in the United States is called primary open-angle glaucoma. In the United States, many people have ocular hypertension, which is a precursor to glaucoma. Ocular hypertension results in elevated fluid pressure in the eye, but no damage to the optic nerve or vision loss.

Blacks and Hispanics are at higher risk for glaucoma, and progression to end-stage glaucoma is very common among blacks.

More information

For more on glaucoma, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.



SOURCES: Frank Sloan, Ph.D., Alexander McMahon Professor of Health Policy and Management, Duke University, Durham, N.C.; Robert Cykiert, M.D., ophthalmologist, New York University Medical Center, clinical associate professor, ophthalmology, New York University School of Medicine, New York City; July 2008, Ophthalmology

Last Updated: July 02, 2008

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