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Transcript: "Early Diagnosis, Timely Treatment"

Dr. Bhasvar: There's a blue light which will be placed onto the surface of the cornea --

Announcer: 88-year-old Kermit Wick has known for over 20 years that he has glaucoma. In fact, his high normal pressures have been watched carefully by his eye doctors since he was much younger.

Kermit: As I got older, the pressure started to climb a little bit, so the doctor decided that I should start off with eye pressure medicine.

Dr. Bhasvar: Mr. Wick, I'll be checking your pressure. That should be painless.

Announcer: Dr. Mary Bhasvar is with the Phillips Eye Institute in Minneapolis.

Dr. Bhasvar: When glaucoma is detected early you have a very good chance of receiving proper treatment and care to the point where -- to the point where vision loss is minimized. Your chances of going blind are very low if you're responsible and you take your medications faithfully and you come in for your routine eye examinations.

Announcer: Today's most frequently prescribed glaucoma treatment contains a beta blocker to reduce the pressure. Since the 1970s, Kermit has routinely applied his drops twice a day and that diligence has paid off. While his left eye has been damaged, he's been able to keep about half his vision level.

Kermit: Well, I can see everything here. I can see everything. But I wouldn't be able to read.

Announcer: Kermit has also undergone laser treatments and microsurgery, common procedures which help to relieve the pressure. His vision loss has stabilized and he's been able to maintain nearly 20/20 vision in his good eye, allowing him to enjoy a comfortable retirement.

Kermit: I get up when I want to in the morning. In the summertime I usually go out fishing about nine o'clock and come in at noon for dinner. I took up fish taxidermy about 10 years ago. In fact, I'm getting better at it all the time, with practice. Small fish, like the sunfish or a crappie or a bass, requires restoring the color with acrylic paint and very fine brushes. At my age, I'm lucky to be able to do that.

Dr. Bhasvar: There's no cure for glaucoma. The goal of therapy is to delay the progression of the disease such that eventually vision loss may occur, but it may occur at a very late age so that you can enjoy a good number of years of good vision and not impair your quality of life.

Kermit: And as you get older, you'll still want your eyesight when you're retired, and do everything you can to preserve it and have it checked. I'm sure glad I did that -- I'm a lucky man.

Announcer: In his late 80s, Kermit is a model of how doing the right things -- balancing regular exams and treatment -- has preserved his eyesight.

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