January his Glaucoma Awareness Month and we want to make sure that you know all about your doughnut!
Now, why would I talk about doughnuts in relation to glaucoma awareness month? First, it is not because I love doughnuts (which I do). It is because the name of the game in glaucoma diagnosis and treatment is to protect the optic nerve. I like to tell our staff that everybody’s optic nerve resembles a glazed doughnut. There is the edible part, which we want a lot of and a hole in the middle. In the optic nerve of each eye, we don’t actually have a hole, but we do have a central depression that’s called the “cup”. During your eye exam (this is during every eye health and vision exam for every patient we see-all ages) we measure the healthy optic nerve (edible doughnut) and estimate the size of the central cup.
Central cupping varies due to genetics, refractive error (eyeglass prescription), race, and a few other factors. In general, if we average everyone in America 33% of the full nerve is represented by the cup. Therefore, another way to look at this is that the average doughnut hole is 33% the size of the doughnut. In general, smaller is better larger is worse.
What is most important, is for us to be measuring and monitoring the size of the cupping (doughnut hole) over time. If the cup increases over time; meaning the edible part of the doughnut is becoming thinner, it is very likely that the patient may be developing glaucoma.
The true definition of glaucoma is vision loss, characterized by loss of healthy optic nerve tissue over time. We monitor that with an OCT for structure and visual field for function. There are a number of evidence-based medicine tests which help us monitor patients who are suspicious for developing glaucoma in the hope that we can prevent, or catch, an early transformation from “suspect” to true glaucoma.
So, in this month of glaucoma awareness I ask you… Do you know what size your doughnut is? The next time you drive by Krispy Kreme, Dunkin, Cool Springs, or Donelson Eyecare, I want you to ask yourself, “How’s my doughnut?”
If you have any questions, call or email me or one of our doctors. We are here to help protect, correct, and enhance your vision and minimizing the risk of glaucoma is foremost in our mind during every eye health and vision exam we perform.