Dr. Edwin C. Marshall, O.D., M.S., M.P.H. is professor emeritus of optometry and public health at Indiana University. Prior to retiring from Indiana University in 2013, he was the Indiana University Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs. Before being named an IU Vice President, Dr. Marshall was the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Student Administration at the Indiana University School of Optometry.
He was the founding Chair of the Minority Health Advisory Committee of the Indiana State Department of Health and Vice Chair of the Indiana Public Health Institute. Dr. Marshall has served as Chair of the National Commission on Vision and Health, Chair of the Executive Board and Vice President (USA) of the American Public Health Association, and Chair of The Nation’s Health Editorial Advisory Committee. He is a past President of the National Optometric Association, the Indiana Optometric Association, and the Indiana Public Health Association.
He also has served as a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Committee on Public Health Approaches to Reduce Vision Impairment and Promote Eye Health, the National Eye Health Education Program Planning Committee of the National Eye Institute, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations Roundtable on Health Literacy and Patient Safety, the Diversity Advisory Board of Transitions Optical, the Indiana Interagency State Council on Black and Minority Health, the Indiana Chronic Disease Advisory Council, and the Indiana Health Care Professional Development Commission.
In 2007, Dr. Marshall was recognized as the American Optometric Association National Optometrist of the Year and as a Distinguished Practitioner and Fellow of the National Academies of Practice. in 2009, he was inducted into the National Optometry Hall of Fame. In 2013, he was awarded the Indiana University President’s Medal for Excellence and in 2015 he received the Founding Dean’s Medallion from the Indiana University School of Public Health – Bloomington.
Healthy Vision Tips
Here are some lifestyle tips to help you focus on your vision.
- Get regular comprehensive dilated eye exams.
- Know your family’s eye health history.
- Eat a nutritious diet.
- Wear protective eyewear.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Quit smoking or never start.
- Control your diabetes.
- Wear sunglasses when outside.
For more information about eye health, visit www.nei.nih.gov/glaucoma
Listen to the interview below.
Dr. Marshall answers your eye health questions below:
Is glaucoma preventable?
Early detection and treatment is the best way to prevent permanent vision loss from glaucoma. A comprehensive dilated eye exam can detect glaucoma before noticeable vision loss occurs.
WHY does glaucoma affect Black people disproportionately? In fact, why does apparently EVERYTHING affect us more? THAT’S the study that needs to be done.
Aside from family history, it is not known why glaucoma affects African Americans disproportionately, but it does occur earlier and more often in African-Americans. After cataracts, glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in African Americans.
Do cataracts go hand in hand with glaucoma?
Cataract is a clouding of the lens inside the eye. Cataract and glaucoma can be present at the same time. In some cases, cataract can lead to secondary glaucoma.
What is the difference between wet eye degeneration and glaucoma, treatment-wise?
Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damage the optic nerve. Treatment, which may include medicine and/or surgery, lowers the pressure inside the eye. Wet macular degeneration affects the macula in the central portion of the retina and involves the growth on abnormal blood vessels that can leak fluid into the retina. Treatment attempts to slow the growth of new abnormal blood vessels to stop or slow the progression of vision loss.
What age should screening start?
Anyone can get glaucoma, but African-Americans 40 years of age and older are at a higher risk and should have a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least every 1-2 years. Others at higher risk include anyone with a family history of glaucoma and people over the age of 60, especially Hispanics/Latinos.
When, if ever, do you suggest having laser surgery for glaucoma?
Treatment can vary with individuals depending on their individual case. Laser surgery is one of the treatment options. People with glaucoma need to be evaluated individually to determine the best treatment plan based on their unique case.
They said something about replacing the lens in my eyes. Is that a different kind of glaucoma? Is that common? I Have diabetes Type 2 and I was wondering is that a different kind of glaucoma.
The discussion about replacing the lens in your eye may be because of a cataract that is affecting your vision. Cataract is a possible complication of diabetic eye disease. People with diabetes also are at a higher risk of developing glaucoma.
Does surgery treat glaucoma?
When detected early, glaucoma can be controlled through medication and/or surgery.
What is a good pressure to have?
The level of pressure that the optic nerve can tolerate is different for each person. A comprehensive dilated eye exam is the best way for the eye care professional to determine the best pressure for you.
Do you have to have a visual field test every six months if you have glaucoma?
The visual field test helps to monitor glaucoma. The frequency is best determined by your eye care professional.
I have been diagnosed with acute glaucoma. I use drops every day and have had the glaucoma surgery, however my vision appears to still be getting worse! What more can I do to keep from going completely blind?
Continue to see your eye care professional and use your drops as prescribed. Your eye care professional can best advise you on the most appropriate care.
What do you recommend for highly sensitive eyes? Seems like getting a regular eye exam is not helping. They don’t see anything wrong but it’s getting worse. It gets irritated, watery, red just watching TV, computers, phone or even reading during the day and especially at night driving.
It is important to determine the cause of your ocular sensitivity (for example, sunlight, glare, eyestrain, dry eye, refractive error, or other ocular issues that may be causing the increased sensitivity.
Am I at risk for glaucoma now at 44 since my dad has it?
Yes, if you are African-American over the age of 40 and have a family history of glaucoma (your dad) you are at a higher risk and should have a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least every 1-2 years.
I have a lot of white-out moments with my vision when I eat food or drink. Sometimes it goes away instantly. But other times it might last a day or two. What cause all the white-out with have my vision?
There could be several reasons. You should consult with both your primary care physician and your eye care professional.
I’m blind in my left eye due to an injury that occurred when I was about 13 years old. I was stabbed in the eye with a pencil. This happened 30 years ago. I have some other health issues. I do not have high blood pressure or diabetes. At times my right eye gets tired and my vision is distorted at times. What concerns should I have if any?
Distorted vision is a cause for concern. You should take extra care to protect the vision in your right eye. Get a comprehensive dilated eye exam.
Sometimes I have a little twitch or fluctuation with my eyelids.
It may be a nervous twitch, but if it persists, go see your eye care professional.
If you do not have glaucoma, will marijuana prevent or slow down the process??
The best approach to preventing damage from glaucoma is to have a comprehensive dilated eye exam.
How often should you get your eyes checked for glaucoma? Also, if you already wear glasses, does that make you a high risk candidate for glaucoma??
Anyone can get glaucoma, but some people are at a higher risk. African-Americans age 40 and over, those with a family history of glaucoma, and people over the age of 60, especially Hispanics/Latinos, should have a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least every 1-2 years. People who are highly nearsighted also may have a higher risk, but wearing glasses does not necessarily make you a high risk for glaucoma.
At what pressure point or rating should you start taking medicine or doing the eye drops?
This is best determined by your eye care professional.
For more information on glaucoma, tips on finding an eye care professional or financial assistance, visit www.nei.nih.gov/glaucoma.
PHOTO: Dr. Marshall