Color catches glaucoma?

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A better test to save vision "Commonly called the 'sneaky thief of sight,' glaucoma has always been difficult to diagnose," says G. Richard Bennett, OD, associate professor and director of the Glaucoma Service at the Eye Institute of the

Pennsylvania College of Optometry in Philadelphia. But doctors may now be able to diagnose glaucoma earlier with a new breakthrough vision test.

For the new test, called SWAP (or short wave-length autoperimetry), your doctor will ask you to stare at a yellow screen. A spot of blue light is then randomly projected onto the screen in different intensities, and each time you see the blue spot, you press a button. "A person's ability to detect certain intensities of blue light can reveal the earliest glaucoma-induced vision defects," explains Dr. Bennett.

Because the 20-minute test can be fatiguing, it's usually given only when a routine exam detects something suspicious for glaucoma. "Detecting glaucoma as early as possible creates a greater chance of halting the progression of the disease and preserving vision," says Dr. Bennett. "Since SWAP gives us a more sensitive view of the damage, it could save a lot of people's vision." Remember, if you're over 40, you should have your eyes checked every two to four years. If your eye doctor notices some glaucoma-like signs and suggests further testing, ask if SWAP is right for you.

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By Jenny Lynch and Yun Lee Wolfe

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