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What do cold hands have to do with glaucoma?
Learn about Flammer's Syndrome with Josef Flammer, MD and patient Hillary Golden.

The Flammer syndrome describes a combination of symptoms and signs which result from a predisposition to a generally increased sensitivity. The main focus is a modified, mostly increased response of the blood vessels to stimuli like cold or emotional stress and the resulting phenomenon like cold hands. The increased sensitivity also affects other sensations like smell, pain, vibration or medication effects etc.

Certain diseases, such as normal tension glaucoma, can even be induced (among other causes and together with other risk factors) by a Flammer Syndrome.

Feb 21, 2023 05:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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Josef Flammer, MD
Emeritus director of the Eye Clinic at Basel University Hospital. @University of Basel, Switzerland
Dr. Flammer was one of the first researchers to demonstrate systemic side effects of locally administered beta-blockers (i.e. eye drops) in ophthalmology. He and his collaborators found that intraocular pressure variation is as important for the development of glaucoma as a constantly elevated intraocular pressure - long considered the main, if not the only, cause of glaucoma. In numerous research projects, he demonstrated that glaucoma could be caused by a dysregulation of ocular blood flow, even at normal levels of intraocular pressure. Flammer discovered that vasospasms in the eye are a manifestation of a general vasospastic syndrome. Later, he noted that such spasms are only the tip of the iceberg and an indication of a much more generalized vascular dysregulation in the human body, increasing the risk of eye disease, particularly of normal tension glaucoma.
Hillary Golden
Hillary had lost a good amount of visual field already and was immediately referred to a glaucoma specialist. While researching NTG, she kept coming across something called Flammer Syndrome. She fit the patient profile, so she read study after study to learn more. This led her to reach out to Dr. Josef Flammer, whom the syndrome was monikered after, to gather more information. She sent an email, not expecting a reply, and was delighted when she heard back from Dr. Flammer himself. Hillary speaks publicly about her diagnosis, how glaucoma affects patients in everyday life, and how she manages her disease. Her career has included sales and training of medical devices, imaging equipment, and computer guided surgical navigation. She is currently a clinical consultant in the glaucoma space.