ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Know Your Asthma Triggers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Health Tip: Anticipating Acupuncture
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Fruits and Veggies May Strengthen Bones
Weight Loss Might Not Curb Knee Arthritis
Drinking Cuts Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk
CANCER
Selenium, Omega-3s May Stave Off Colorectal Cancer
Vitamin D May Lower Colon Cancer Risk
Researchers ID Genetic Markers for Esophageal Cancer
CAREGIVING
Few Hospitals Embracing Electronic Health Record Systems
Stressed Health Care Workers Battle 'Compassion Fatigue'
Obese Children More Likely to Suffer Lower Body Injuries
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Health Tip: Are You Anemic?
Walk 100 Steps a Minute for 'Moderate' Exercise
Salt Boosts Blood Pressure in High-Risk Patients
COSMETIC
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
DENTAL, ORAL
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
Amino Acid May Be Key to Strong Teeth
Acid Drinks Blamed for Increase in Tooth Erosion
DIABETES
Brown Rice Bests White for Diabetes Prevention
Out-of-Control Blood Sugar May Affect Memory
Exercise Protects Black Women From Type 2 Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Proven Strategies for Avoiding Colds and the Flu
Imagine Food Aromas That Prevent Overeating
B Vitamins Might Lower Stroke Risk
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Is It Safe to Go in the Gulf Coast's Water?
Gas Cooking Might Up Your Cancer Risk
Climate Change Linked to Longer Pollen Seasons
EYE CARE, VISION
Autistic Children Make Limited Eye Contact
When Corks Fly, Watch the Eyes
Guard Kids' Eyes Against Long-Term Sun Damage
FITNESS
Fall Cleanup Is a Prime Time for Accidents
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
Walking Golf Course Affects Swing, Performance
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
GENERAL HEALTH
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Toxins May Form When Skin, Indoor Ozone Meet
Olde Time Medicine Therapy May Prevent Alcoholic Relapse
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Dark Chocolate May Lower Stroke Risk
Fish Oil Supplements Help With Heart Failure
After a Stroke, Light Exercise Gets Hands, Arms Working Again
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
When It Comes to Toys, Shop Smart, Shop Safe
Don't Leave Your Kids In The Car !
Bullying Seems to Affect Kids Years Later
MEN'S HEALTH
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
MENTAL HEALTH
Most Depressed Teens Don't Get Treatment
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
The Unmedicated Mind
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Music of Mozart Soothes the Preemie Baby
SENIORS
Any Old Cane Won't Do
Life Expectancy in U.S. Hits New High
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
Natural Therapies for Menopause
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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