Pros of early diagnosis outweigh cons

September 19, 2005

San Francisco - Early diagnosis of glaucoma does matter because it offers an opportunity to alter the significant morbidity associated with this disease, said Kuldev Singh, MD, MPH, professor of ophthalmology, director, glaucoma service, Stanford University, Stanford, CA.

San Francisco - Early diagnosis of glaucoma does matter because it offers an opportunity to alter the significant morbidity associated with this disease, said Kuldev Singh, MD, MPH, professor of ophthalmology, director, glaucoma service, Stanford University, Stanford, CA.

“With early diagnosis there is an opportunity for earlier treatment that can improve the odds of preventing functional vision loss. However, even if intervention is not chosen, early diagnosis still offers greater opportunities for increasing patient awareness about the disease continuum and need for follow-up as well as to assess disease velocity that can be important in guiding treatment decisions that will help prevent vision loss,” Dr. Singh said.

Early diagnosis is accompanied by potential pitfalls that need to be considered. One of those problems is creation of patient anxiety, and to address that clinicians need to assure patients that their risk of going blind is low if they adhere to regular follow-up and prescribed therapy.

In addition, there is a potential for exposing patients to unnecessary treatment and, even more commonly, overtreatment.

“To avoid inappropriately aggressive treatment, management decisions need to be based on the lifetime risk of functional vision loss and weighed against the benefits of therapy. With that approach, early diagnosis is beneficial for glaucoma patients,” Dr. Singh said.

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