Glaucoma screening crucial to preventing blindness

February 27, 2013 5:30:04 AM PST
Sometimes getting in to see the doctor isn't easy. So some doctors from Wills Eye Institute are making rounds outside the hospital to help screen for and treat glaucoma.

Daniel Lyons and Belle Rosner have never been screened for glaucoma. But since doctors from Wills Eye came to their community center, the Klein JCC in Northeast Philadelphia, they figured they ought to.

"When you get to be past 39 then you have to check up on everything on your body," Belle quipped.

The doctors are visiting community centers throughout the area to screen and treat glaucoma on-the-spot.

It is a group of eye diseases that, if not treated, can cause blindness - and you may not notice if you have symptoms.

Dr. George Spaeth, a glaucoma specialist at Wills Eye Institute, says if you lose sight in one eye, you don't notice because the other eye is seeing fine.

Dr. Spaeth says glaucoma can strike at any age, but it is more common in people over 60, and in African-Americans, Latinos and Asians.

The good news is that it is easy to detect and easy to treat.

"By and large, if you catch it early, you can treat it very effectively," he says.

The problem is about 50-percent of people with glaucoma never get checked and never get treated. That is why it is the leading cause of blindness.

Dr. Spaeth says no matter your age or if you have any risk factors, everyone should be screened by an eye doctor.