Medical Minute 1-24: Home Glaucoma Test

By: Vanessa Welch Email
By: Vanessa Welch Email

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," she said.

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," said Toni Whitaker.

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.

"Six seconds is worth of data is highly inadequate for managing a chronic disease that's round the clock," said Sanjay Asrani, MD Associate Professor of Ophthalmology Duke University Durham, NC.

One 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.

"If we can control the fluctuations and the patient is stable it is my experience that the patients do not progress," said Sanjay Asrani, M.D.

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.

Sanjay Asrani, MDAssociate Professor of OphthalmologyDuke University(919) 684 -8656asran002@mc.duke.edu


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