It's estimated more than four million Americans are living with glaucoma. It is a leading cause of blindness that has no cure.
Emily Ramsey knows living with diabetes puts her vision at risk, so she has regular exams. In her latest checkup, the doctor detected the pressures in her eyes were elevated. Emily had the early stages of glaucoma.
Dr. Babak Marefat, an opthamologist with Cotton-O'Neil in Topeka, says glaucoma is a disease of elevated pressure in the eye that's treated by lowering the pressure. Untreated, the elevated pressure will gradually destroy the optic nerve, damage that can't be reversed.
Dr. Marefat says treatments aim to lower the pressure to prevent further damage and loss of sight. Plus, he says, in some cases relieving the pressure relieves stress on nerves that haven't been completely withered and they may recover.
Right now, four classes of medication are available to treat glaucoma. But if all four are exhausted, surgery is the next option - something doctors would like to avoid. Dr. Marefat says surgery is never without inherent risk, so if you can treat it medically, you're not taking a risk you don't have to.
Dr. Marefat is taking part in the first human trial on what could become a fifth class of drugs for treating glaucoma, giving people another option to avoid surgery.
Trial participants are given either the new drug or a control drug, which is one of the currently approved medications, so no one goes without treatment.
Trial participants must meet several requirements.. but do not need to be cotton o'neil patients. Learn more about it and other research trials at 785-368-0744.