Tampa, Fla - For 14 years, 42-year-old computer programmer Toni Whitaker has been living with glaucoma. “Before I was diagnosed it was like you don't even think about the idea of not having any vision."
Now that it's taken away some of her peripheral vision, she sees things a lot differently. “You know I'm a programmer, I'm a geek at heart. It's like I don't know what I would do if I couldn't you know, write code or sit in front of a computer."
Three times a year it's the same drill... Anesthetic eye drops, then a two second test to see if her eye pressure is changing which could be a sign her glaucoma is progressing.
Sanjay Asrani, an Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina says, “Six seconds worth of data is highly inadequate for managing a chronic disease that's round the clock."
This test, in trials at Duke University allows patients like Toni to check their intraocular pressure at home several times a day -- the same way diabetics check their blood sugar. The goal is the same -- better management of the disease. Dr. Asranio says, “If we can control the fluctuations and the patient is stable it is my experience that the patients do not progress."
If Toni's glaucoma doesn't get worse, neither will her vision. “Eyesight is an important part of what I do every day. I can't even imagine my life without being able to see."
With help from new technology, she hopes she'll never have to.
The home glaucoma test is actually a new, easy to use version of a test designed for clinical use. It's still experimental, but Duke Eye Center patients have already used the test successfully to check fluctuations in their glaucoma over extended periods of time. Researchers hope the home test could one day be available to all patients with glaucoma, so their disease can be managed in much the same way high blood pressure and diabetes are monitored and managed long-term.
For more information:
Sanjay Asrani, MD
Associate Professor of Ophthalmology
(919) 684 -8656
Copyright 2011 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
We're taking action tonight for a well deserving group of Tampa athletes. They call themselves the Thunder and they've stormed onto the soccer scene - putting enough points up to make it all the way to a national competition.