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Glaucoma - Beware of silent thief of sight

World glaucoma week will be observed from March 7th to 13th in 2021. Read on to know all about this eye disease.

Written by Editorial Team |Updated : March 10, 2021 8:19 AM IST

World Glaucoma Week is to be observed from 7th 13th March 2021. The theme this year reflects the hope that with regular testing, people continue to see the world around us: full of beauty, charm, and adventure. The world is bright, save your sight!

Glaucoma or Kala-Motia is an eye disease, which is one of the leading causes of blindness. It is common in adults over the age of 35. When diagnosed early, blindness from glaucoma is almost always preventable. It is a disease that afflicts over 60 million people across the world. And worse, more than half of them do not even realize it until it is too late. Rightly called the Silent Vision Stealer, glaucoma creeps up on unsuspecting victims and by the time it is detected, it is often too late to save the vision.

Glaucoma affects the optic nerve which transmits visual messages to the brain. The nutrition to the eye is supplied by a fluid and in normal eyes, the pressure of this fluid remains balanced. But with age, disease, trauma or other factors, the channels carrying the fluid get blocked, increasing the pressure inside the eye.

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According to Dr Vineet Sehgal, Senior Glaucoma Consultant, Sharp Sight Eye Hospitals, "In most cases, there are no symptoms of this increased pressure. The disease works silently, damaging the outer or peripheral vision first while maintaining the central vision. By the time the problem is detected, the patient has already suffered extensive peripheral vision damage which is irreversible."

Categories Of Glaucoma

Primary Open Angle or Chronic Glaucoma: This is the most common form of the disease. Damage to the vision in this type of glaucoma is gradual and generally painless.

Closed Angle or Acute Glaucoma: In this type of glaucoma, the intraocular pressure increases very rapidly due to a sudden and severe block of fluid drainage within the eye. Significant symptoms indicating the presence of acute glaucoma appear immediately. This condition has to be treated quickly by an ophthalmologist otherwise blindness may occur.

Other Types such as congenital glaucoma and secondary glaucoma also affect people.

Common Symptoms of Chronic Glaucoma

Glaucoma, in its early stages, generally does not show any noticeable symptoms. Chronic glaucoma progresses too slowly to get noticed.

  • Inability to adjust the eyes to darkened rooms such as theatres
  • Frequent changes in an eyeglass prescription
  • Gradual loss of peripheral vision
  • Blurred vision
  • Headaches
  • Poor night vision

In the case of acute glaucoma, resulting from the rapid increase in the intraocular pressure, there could be severe symptoms. These include:

  • Feeling of a blind area in the field of vision
  • Seeing rainbow coloured halos around lights
  • Severe eye pain, facial pain
  • Red eye
  • Cloudy vision with halos around light
  • Nausea and vomiting

Regular eye check-ups can help catch glaucoma at a very early stage, reducing the chances of vision loss. So, everyone who is in the high-risk group should get themselves tested. Dr Vineet Sehgal, added, "People with a family history are at highest risk and should get an annual test done, irrespective of their age. Others who fall in this category are diabetics, hypertensive patients, thyroid patients and those with a high plus or minus power."

Which are the high-risk groups?

  • Family history of glaucoma
  • History of diabetes
  • People having high minus or plus numbered glasses
  • Age above forty years
  • People suffering from hypertension
  • Anybody who has undergone any kind of eye surgery
  • People with thyroid gland related ailments
  • Someone with over-mature cataracts
  • People with an injury to the eye
  • People with a history of prolonged use of steroid eye drops

Points to Remember

  • There is no prevention, however, this eye condition is treatable
  • Sometimes the symptoms of glaucoma are simply not noticeable
  • Timely detection of the disease is a must
  • Timely treatment may prevent further loss of vision and blindness

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