A clinical trial at the Yale Eye Center could have major implications for patients with glaucoma, said James Tsai, MD, chair of ophthalmology at Yale, during a recent interview with WTNH Channel 8 News in New Haven. Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness, and the trial is testing a new technique that could help to diagnose the condition when it’s still possible to treat.
Tsai performs a routine eye exam for a patient at the Yale Eye Center. Photo by Terry Dagradi
Trying to figure out whether patients are losing their visual field, or even whether they have glaucoma, can be a real challenge, Tsai said. The conventional visual field test, a common tool for measuring central and peripheral vision, asks patients to push buttons whenever they see a light. But this test is a subjective examination, requiring the patient to understand and follow testing instructions. To better clarify the diagnosis, Tsai is attaching electrodes to the patients' scalps.
“The patients don't have to worry about pressing a button,” Tsai said. “All they have to do is look straight ahead, look at the test object and just have the electrodes measure the recordings from their scalp,” he explained. He hopes the new technology will offer an objective way of assessing glaucoma.
It's estimated that 3 million Americans have glaucoma and more than half of them don't know it. There is no cure for glaucoma, but Tsai says the focus is on new diagnostic tools and therapeutic options, adding that effective and timely treatment can prevent vision loss.
There are currently a number of ongoing adult and pediatric clinical studies in ophthalmology, with three focusing on glaucoma. You can enroll for Tsai’s diagnostic trial online or learn about other clinical trials in ophthalmology by calling Juliann Boccio at 203-785-3392.