50% Indians do not know they have glaucoma: AIIMS

Going blind is the worst nightmare one can ever have. Being dependent on someone else for the rest of your life, for mundane things, adds to the dreadfulness of blindness. One of the diseases that results in blindness is glaucoma and it's the third leading cause of blindness in India. Every eighth individual in India, above the age of 40, is suffering from glaucoma or is at a high risk of developing it, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi said. (Read:8 answers that could save your eyes!)

Glaucoma is a condition that causes damage to the eye's optic nerve and gets worse over time. It's often associated with a buildup of pressure inside the eye. Glaucoma tends to be inherited and may not show up until later in life. Calling it the most common cause of irreversible blindness, doctors said 50 percent of the people in India do not know they have glaucoma as it is generally asymptomatic and regular eye examination is not practised. (Read: New treatment to cure glaucoma on the horizon)

'It is a progressive eye disease causing irreversible visual loss, usually without warning until relatively advanced. It is important to emphasise that with newer and better medication and safer surgery, early treatment can stabilise glaucoma vision loss and prevent blindness,' said Vinay Gupta, additional professor at R. P. Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences at AIIMS. He was speaking at a public lecture held at AIIMS in connection with the ongoing World Glaucoma week, March 8-14. (Read: Types of glaucoma you should know about)

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According to AIIMS, India has more than 12 million people suffering from glaucoma. Outlining some of the early symptoms, the doctors suggested that people suffering from chronic headache, having difficulty in performing everyday tasks in dim light, bumping into objects or having redness of the eyes should get themselves checked for glaucoma. Ophthalmology professor Ramanjit Sihota said that frequently other eye diseases such as injury to the eye, healed corneal ulcers, uveitis and diabetic retinal disease can lead to glaucoma. 'Physicians should be aware that long-term use of steroids in allergies and chronic disease -- such as inhalers or tablets for asthma or skin ointment and especially steroids drops used for allergic conjunctivitis, can lead to glaucoma and unnecessary visual loss,' she said. 'Patients on steroid should be counselled to have regular eye checkup.' (Read: Coming soon A contact lens that can cure glaucoma)

With inputs from IANS

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