The month of March is observed as World Glaucoma Month. Previously it was used to be observed as world glaucoma day then world glaucoma week. Considering the gravity and morbidity produced by this disease now deliberations regarding the disease are held for nearly a month.
The aim is to raise awareness about glaucoma as the leading cause of irreversible and preventable visual disability. This Month is being organiSed all over the world to encourage screening and educate patients about the preventable and treatment aspects of glaucoma.
It has been seen that 2/3rds of glaucoma patients lose vision in the developing countries because of their ignorance about the condition. Even in developed countries like the USA almost 50% of patients suffering from glaucoma are unaware of their disease, about 10 million people continue to fall prey to this diseases annually.
Glaucoma refers to a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve, which carries visual information from the eye to the brain. In many cases, damage to the optic nerve is due to increased eye pressure. Once incurred, visual damage is mostly irreversible, and this has led to glaucoma being described as the “silent blinding disease” or the “sneak thief of sight”.
People at risk of glaucoma
¢ Age more than 40
¢ Family history of glaucoma Diabetes
¢ History of elevated intraocular pressure
¢ Nearsightedness (high degree of myopia),
¢ History of injury to the eye
¢ Use of cortisone (steroids), either in the eye or systemically (orally or injected)
Early symptoms of glaucoma
¢ Gradually progressive diminition of vision.
¢ Mild pain in one or both eyes.
¢ Gradually progressive loss of peripheral vision.
¢ Dull, boring type of headache.
¢ Appearances of coloured halos while looking at a lit bulb or source of lights.
Glaucoma can develop in one or both eyes. The most common type of glaucoma, open- angle glaucoma, has no symptoms at first. It causes no pain, and vision seems normal. Without treatment, people with glaucoma will slowly lose their peripheral, or side vision. In advance cases the peripheral vision is so much reduced that the patient seems to be looking as if through. a tunnel. Over time, straight-ahead vision may decrease until no vision remains.
Screening for glaucoma
¢Age 30-39: Individuals of African descent or with a family history of glaucoma should have an eye examination every two to four years. Others should have an eye exam at least twice during this period.
¢ Age 40-64: Individuals should have an eye examination every two to four years.
¢ Age 65 or older: Individuals should have an eye examination every one to two years.
The investigations for Glaucoma include recording of intraocular pressure, Gonioscopy. visual field analysis and optic nerve evaluation. Latest high tech equipment is available for early detection of the Glaucoma. Your eye doctor is the best judge to guide you regarding these tests.
Depending on the severity, treatment can involve glaucoma surgery, lasers, or medication. Eye drops with medication aimed at lowering IOP usually are tried first to control glaucoma. Patients with glaucoma need to be aware that it is a lifelong disease. Compliance with scheduled visits to the eye doctor and with prescribed medication regimens offers the best chance for maintaining vision
There is no cure for glaucoma as yet, and vision loss is irreversible. However medication or surgery (traditional or laser) can halt or slow-down any further vision loss. Therefore early detection is essential to limiting visual impairment and preventing the progression towards severe visual handicap or blindness. Your eye-care professional can detect glaucoma in its early stages and advise you on the best course of action.
¢ Never ever miss your dose of medicine for glaucoma.
¢ As instructed by your eye doctor, use eye drops as per his recommended schedule at regular intervals.
¢ The best way of using these eye drops is to first wash your hands with soap let the hands dry by shaking them, lye down on the bed hold your eye drop in one hand and with other hand gently pull the lower lid, put in the drop, close the eye, apply gentle pressure with your index fingers near the medial canthus of the eye for five minutes. This will help in increasing the efficacy of medication and prevent side effects.
Dr. Bashir is Director, Eye Care and Research Centre, Karan Nagar
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK