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Researchers identify an early predictor for glaucoma
Date:1/1/2013

SAN FRANCISCO January 2, 2013 A new study finds that certain changes in blood vessels in the eye's retina can be an early warning that a person is at increased risk for glaucoma, an eye disease that slowly robs people of their peripheral vision. Using diagnostic photos and other data from the Australian Blue Mountains Eye Study, the researchers showed that patients who had abnormally narrow retinal arteries when the study began were also those who were most likely to have glaucoma at its 10-year end point. If confirmed by future research, this finding could give ophthalmologists a new way to identify and treat those who are most vulnerable to vision loss from glaucoma. The study was recently published online by Ophthalmology, the journal of the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Open-angle glaucoma (OAG), the most common form of the disease, affects nearly three million people in the U.S and 60 million worldwide. Vision loss occurs when glaucoma damages the optic nerve, the part of the eye that transmits images from the retina to the brain. Unfortunately, because glaucoma does not have symptoms, many people don't know they have the disease until a good portion of their sight has been lost. Early detection is critical to treating glaucoma in time to preserve vision.

The findings of the new study, led by Paul Mitchell, M.D., PhD, of the Centre for Vision Research, University of Sydney, supports the concept that abnormal narrowing of retinal blood vessels is an important factor in the earliest stages of OAG. Tracking nearly 2,500 participants, the study found that the OAG risk at the 10-year mark was about four times higher in patients whose retinal arteries had been narrowest when the study began, compared with those who had had the widest arteries.

None of the participants had a diagnosis of OAG at the study's outset. Compared with the study group as a whole, the patients who were diagnosed with OAG by the 10-year mark w
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Contact: Mary Wade
mwade25@gmail.com
415-447-0221
American Academy of Ophthalmology
Source:Eurekalert

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