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With an objective to spread the word about a sight-stealing disease, the month of January is observed as “National Glaucoma Awareness Month” in the United States. One of the leading causes of irreversible blindness, glaucoma is an eye disease that causes damage to the optic nerve that supplies visual information to the brain from the eyes. Sponsored by the Glaucoma Research Foundation, the campaign is the perfect occasion to raise awareness of glaucoma, promote the need for a cure, and support those suffering with the emotional, financial and physical burden associated with the disease. It is a unique platform to advise the general public that the best defense against developing glaucoma-related blindness is having routine, comprehensive eye exams. There are different types of glaucoma and these types have no specific warning symptoms in the early stages. Loss of vision progresses at such a gradual rate that people affected by the disease are often quite unaware about it until a reduction in their eyesight occurs or the disease reaches an advanced stage. There is no cure for glaucoma as the vision loss associated with the condition cannot be recovered. However, medications or surgery can reduce or prevent further vision loss after diagnosis. Undergoing regular eye examinations that determine the eye pressure is helpful in identifying the condition at an early stage so that appropriate treatment can be administered to reduce or prevent the progression of the condition on a long-term basis. The treatment depends upon the type of glaucoma the person has. Ophthalmologists administering treatment modalities for different forms of glaucoma need to ensure that the billing and coding for this condition is done correctly on their medical claims. Medical billing services offered by a reputable medical billing company can ensure timely claim filing and correct reimbursement.

As per reports from the Glaucoma Research Foundation, currently more than 3 million people in the United States have glaucoma. Though glaucoma can affect people of all age groups, although the most common forms primarily affect the middle-aged and elderly people. People above the age group of 60 years are at increased risk of glaucoma and the risk of glaucoma increases slightly with each year of age. The disease tends to affect both eyes, although one may be more severely affected than the other. Gradual reduction in vision is one of the most common and initial symptoms of this condition. Other symptoms include – severe eye pain, seeing colored rings around lights, redness in your eye, nausea and vomiting and sudden blurred vision.

Diagnosis of glaucoma begins with a comprehensive eye examination wherein the ophthalmologist checks for signs of deterioration, including loss of nerve tissue. A detailed medical history evaluation is done to check for the specific symptoms the patient is experiencing and analyze whether he/she has any personal or family history of glaucoma. A general health assessment will also be done to determine if any other health conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure are affecting the eye health. Other additional tests include – tonometry (measuring intraocular pressure), visual field test (checking for areas of vision loss), pachymetry (measuring corneal thickness), gonioscopy (inspecting the drainage angle) and testing for optic nerve damage with a dilated eye examination. The basic objective of glaucoma treatment is to reduce IOP to stop any additional eyesight loss. In most cases, treatment begins with prescription eye drops. However, if these don’t give the expected results, surgery will be adviced to make a drainage path for fluid or destroy tissues that are responsible for the increased fluid. Common surgical options include – laser therapy, drainage tubes, filtering surgery and minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS). Ophthalmology medical billing and coding can be challenging. Eye specialists who happen to diagnose, screen and treat glaucoma condition need to use the correct medical codes for accurate documentation. Billing and coding services offered by experienced medical billing and coding companies ensure this so that accurate claim submissions are done. ICD-10 codes for glaucoma diagnosis include –

  • H40 Glaucoma
  • H40.0 – Glaucoma suspect
  • H40.1 – Open-angle glaucoma
  • H40.2 – Primary angle-closure glaucoma
  • H40.3 – Glaucoma secondary to eye trauma
  • H40.4 – Glaucoma secondary to eye inflammation
  • H40.5 – Glaucoma secondary to other eye disorders
  • H40.6 – Glaucoma secondary to drugs
  • H40.8 – Other glaucoma
  • H40.9 – Unspecified glaucoma
  • H42 – Glaucoma in diseases classified elsewhere

As part of the campaign, a wide range of events will be hosted across the US to spread word about this eye disease and promote awareness about the importance of eye health all year long. Healthcare centers, hospitals and local community health systems get involved in a wide range of programs like seminars, discussions, and presentations relating to this eye condition. These programs include – connecting on social media platforms for regular updates on glaucoma research and treatments, reaching out to other eye health organizations, involving in local community groups through group discussions, planning webinars and discussing about the symptoms of glaucoma with friends and family.

Join Glaucoma Awareness Month Campaign this January. Spread the word about glaucoma condition and put eye health in the national spotlight.