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New Imaging Tool Can Spot Glaucoma Risk
Date:6/9/2008

But experts say it will be several years before there's widespread use

MONDAY, June 9 (HealthDay News) -- A sophisticated new imaging device could one day help doctors detect the devastating eye disease known as narrow-angle glaucoma earlier and more accurately, researchers report.

If left undetected and untreated, narrow-angle glaucoma can lead to a sudden or acute glaucoma attack, which can result in permanent vision loss.

Researchers at Duke University Medical Center detail the new technology in the June issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology.

"Narrow angle glaucoma is one-third the prevalence of open-angle glaucoma worldwide but it is more blinding than open-angle glaucoma. It will be the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the world by the year 2050," said study author Dr. Sanjay Asrani, an associate professor of ophthalmology with the Duke Eye Center. "That's why this [new imaging instrument] has such strategic significance."

Asrani predicted that the technology -- called Fourier-domain optical coherence tomography (FDOCT) -- would be available at teaching or university hospitals within five years, but it will be longer before there's widespread use.

"The approach is exciting as it may offer us another tool to help us detect this potential risk," said Dr. Andrew Iwach, a spokesman for the American Academy of Ophthalmology and executive director of the Glaucoma Center of San Francisco. "It will also help us further refine our ability to decide who needs laser surgery or not."

Narrow-angle glaucoma affects some half million people in the United States, making it much less common than open-angle glaucoma, which affects six times that many, according to the Glaucoma Research Foundation.

As people age, changes in the eye's lens can occur, including thickening. "There's a slight shift in the position of the eye to the point that there could be a rupture of th
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