A majority of people with the condition are unaware of it
New Delhi, March 15 2019 :
Statistics indicate that over 11 million people worldwide will become bilaterally blind (blind in both eyes) due to glaucoma by 2020. The condition is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the world and accounts for 12% of all blindness worldwide. In India, nearly 12 million people suffer from glaucoma and 1.2 million have been left blind from the disease. On World Glaucoma Week, there is a need to raise awareness on the condition and the importance of regular eye examination in people over 40 years of age.
Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve of the eye, which relays the visual images captured by the eye to the brain for interpretation. The major risk factor is increased intraocular pressure (IOP), which can damage the optic nerve if it is elevated too much.
Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Indians often tend to not give much importance to eye health. One of the diseases caused due to this ignorance — and also called the Neglected Eye Disease — is Glaucoma. It can occur in people without any other eye problem and often, does not show any symptoms. Prevention and early treatment are two key aspects for combating glaucoma. If left untreated, it can lead to visual field defects, visual impairment, and eventually blindness. The lack of symptoms can delay diagnosis.”
Symptoms of intraocular pressure in people with likely glaucoma include severe headache, eye pain, vomiting sensation, and appearance of rainbow-colored circles around bright lights.
Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “In children, or newborns, glaucoma is diagnosed within a year of birth. The cause for this condition in them could be incorrect development of the eye’s fluid-flow system before birth. This further causes an increase in the intraocular pressure and damages the optic nerve. Glaucoma can usually be treated and controlled using medicine(s), laser surgery, glaucoma surgery or a combination of these treatments.”
Some tips from HCFI to prevent glaucoma
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Keep your blood pressure at a normal level and control other medical conditions.
- Don’t smoke.
- Limit caffeine intake to moderate levels, because some evidence suggests that high amounts of caffeine may increase eye pressure.
- Try to get some form of physical activity every day such as walking, swimming, or working in the yard.
- Prevent overexposure to sunlight by wearing sunglasses and hats when you’re outdoors.
- Get regular, comprehensive eye exams, and consult your doctor if you notice changes in your vision.
- Consume foods that aid optimum eye health such as dark green leafy vegetables and carrots.