Abraham Van Helsing, OD

Eye disease creeps silently. The eye’s natural accommodation renders many patients practically asymptomatic—a blurry patch here, suboptimal vision there, but largely mobile and happy. Many patients (particularly those who decline routine eye exams) learn about their disease only when it has advanced to a moderate or severe level. As the first doctors to encounter many of these patients, optometrists are tasked with educating and directing them to proper specialists who can alleviate their ailments.

Luckily, eye care providers are equipped for such a task and can reverse the effects of many eye diseases. IOLs, refractive surgeries, corneal inlays, and anti-VEGF injections have neutralized the consequences of living with a range of ocular conditions, from presbyopia to neovascular age-related macular degeneration.

Glaucoma, however, is a strange villain. Glaucoma’s incremental encroachment—blurring the periphery of the visual field, then darkening it while closing in—casts it the Count Dracula of eye disease: lurking in the shadows, stalking silently, and sucking irrecoverable life force from its victim, often before it is detected.

Optometrists may not have the wooden stakes needed to send this vampiric monster back from whence it came, but they do possess the garlic bulbs and crucifixes needed to keep it at bay. In this issue, AOC examines the tools that optometrists and ophthalmologists have at their disposal to prevent glaucoma from destroying patients’ lives.

Glaucoma cannot be cured, but it can be staved off—and vision can be preserved before the disease’s irrevocable damage cements visual loss. Keep this vampire at bay, good doctors, with education and garlic (and a good tonometer, too).