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West Chester Ophthalmologist Warns Patients About Symptomless Glaucoma


August 8, 2013 - West Chester, PA

Dr. Cristan M. Arena, a West Chester eye care specialist, says that many of her patients with glaucoma do not even realize they are suffering from the condition. At Chester County Eye Care Associates, Dr. Arena has patients visit the office who do not complain of any symptoms or notice a high degree of eye pressure, but test positively for glaucoma. The condition, when left untreated, can result in a significant loss of peripheral vision before the patient realizes there is cause for concern.

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world and affects millions of Americans. An eye disease which damages the optic nerve, glaucoma can cause a progressive loss of vision. Those who are over 35 years of age, African-Americans, diabetics, and those who have a first-degree relative with glaucoma are at an increased risk for the condition. Glaucoma is often referred to as a "silent thief" of sight -- because it typically does not display symptoms until the disease has already progressed to a more severe stage. However, Dr. Arena says that routine eye exams can catch glaucoma early, and treatment can begin to prevent it from getting worse.

According to Dr. Arena, of the two forms of glaucoma, open angle glaucoma is more prevalent in the US, while angle closure glaucoma is more common in Asian countries. Angle closure glaucoma can happen suddenly and is a more emergent risk to eye health, while open angle glaucoma has a protracted course and can take years to cause visual damage. However, the glaucoma specialist notes, though open angle glaucoma may take years to cause damage, there are oftentimes no symptoms for the condition and patients are unaware they are at risk. She says angle closure glaucoma has symptoms that make the patient aware of the condition rather quickly.

At Chester County Eye Care Associates, Dr. Arena says she evaluates each patient thoroughly and comprehensively. Visual acuity and eye pressure are tested to determine if the patient suffers from either open or closed angle glaucoma. She examines and photographs the optic nerve and checks the range of a patient's visual field, or peripheral vision. If the patient does suffer from either open or closed angle glaucoma, Dr. Arena typically begins to treat the patient with eye drop medication, though in some cases, she says, Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) can be a treatment option for open angle.

Dr. Arena highlights that, unlike loss of vision from cataracts -- which is often reversible -- loss of vision due to glaucoma is permanent. She urges her West Chester ophthalmology patients and all others to get their eyes checked on a regular basis. "Get your eyes examined, even if you feel like you see well, especially if you have a family history of glaucoma. Every eye doctor will do a basic screen for glaucoma at every exam. If they suggest further tests, do not be alarmed, it is better to be overly cautious in screening for glaucoma."

About Cristan M. Arena, MD

Dr. Cristan Arena, part of the vision care team at Chester County Eye Care Associates, is a graduate of Franklin & Marshall College and earned her medical degree at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. A specialist in the surgical and medical management of glaucoma, she completed her ophthalmology residency at Temple University Hospital and a glaucoma fellowship at the University of South Florida. Dr. Arena is available for interview upon request.

For more information about Dr. Arena and Chester County Eye Care Associates, visit chestercountyeyecare.com, chestercountylasik.com, and facebook.com/ChesterCountyEyeCare.

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Chester County Eye Care Associates

Exton Office:
Commons at Oaklands
740 West Lincoln Highway
Exton, PA 19341

West Chester Office:
Fern Hill Medical Campus
915 Old Fern Hill Road
Building B
Suite 200
West Chester, PA 19380

West Grove Office:
So. Chester County Medical Center
Medical Office Bldg. 1
Suite 203
1011 West Baltimore Pike
West Grove, PA 19390

(610) 696-1230

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