Staff Reporter –
This World Glaucoma Week, Allergan, an AbbVie company, came together with renowned experts in the field of ophthalmology to emphasise the importance of early detection and treatment of glaucoma to prevent eye impairment. The experts also shed light on the essential measures for managing risk and prevention techniques, as well as the latest developments in treatment.
World Glaucoma Week is celebrated annually in March to raise awareness about the importance of early detection and treatment of glaucoma. World Glaucoma Week serves as an important platform to draw attention to the growing public health concern of glaucoma and the need for improved eye health systems to prevent vision impairment. It is a reminder of the urgent need for increased efforts to prevent, diagnose, and treat glaucoma to ensure a brighter future for individuals and communities affected by this devastating eye disease.
Globally, glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness after cataracts. It is estimated to cause blindness in 4.5 million people worldwide, whereas in India, out of 12 million people who are suffering from glaucoma, 1.2 million people are blind owing to this disease as per 2012 statistics. Despite this, glaucoma is largely undiagnosed, with more than 90 percent of untreated cases. It has become a growing cause of concern for the country. Being a progressive and irreversible condition of blindness, early detection and management is of utmost importance.
Glaucoma is an eye conditions that can lead to vision loss if left untreated. It is a disease that damages the optic nerve, which transmits visual information from the eye to the brain. Glaucoma typically progresses slowly over time and can cause gradual loss of peripheral vision, eventually leading to blindness if not treated.
Adding about the current glaucoma situation in India, Dr. Maneesh Singh, Director, Netralayam, The Super-speciality Eye care centre said “The prevalence of glaucoma in India varies between rural and urban areas. This can be attributed to several factors, such as lifestyle changes, increased life expectancy, and The burden of glaucoma in India is expected to increase in the coming years due to several factors such as an aging population, lifestyle changes, and an increase in chronic diseases like diabetes, which is a risk factor for glaucoma. Therefore, it is essential to increase awareness about glaucoma, improve access to eye care services, and develop effective screening programs, particularly in rural areas.”
Dr. Debasis Chakrabarti, Consultant Ophthalmologist, Glaucoma and Cataract Services, at Centre For Sight, Kolkata added “There are numerous myths and false beliefs regarding glaucoma that may discourage people from getting the treatment and care they need. The idea that glaucoma only affects older people is among the most common misconceptions about the disease. Although elderly people are indeed more likely to get glaucoma, it can afflict anyone at any age, including infants and young adults. In addition, regardless of age, those with a family history of the illness are at a higher risk. The idea that glaucoma primarily affects those with high eye pressure is another widespread myth. Even though having high eye pressure increases your risk of developing glaucoma, it’s not the sole risk factor. “
It is essential to emphasise the necessity of yearly eye exams in order to detect glaucoma early and prevent visual loss. Highlighting the importance of timely intervention, Dr. Rishi Jain, Medical Director, Allergan an AbbVie Company said “Early detection is key to prevent vision loss, as once lost it cannot be reversed. Visit an ophthalmologist at least once every year to get your eyes checked. The early symptoms of glaucoma are normally detectable during an eye exam by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. Tonometry, ophthalmoscopy, and perimetry are simple tests for detecting increased eye pressure (tonometry), optic nerve damage (ophthalmoscopy), and vision loss (perimetry). Additionally, your doctor may perform other procedures, such as gonioscopy and pachymetry, which measure the angle between the cornea and iris.”
Dr. Partha Biswas, Medical Director, Trenetralaya, Kolkata and Chairperson, Scientific Committee, All India Ophthalmology Society elaborated on the various measures that can help reduce the risk of developing glaucoma. “Regular eye exams are essential for identifying glaucoma early before any serious damage occurs. Every year, those over 40 should undergo a comprehensive eye exam, and those at higher risk (such as those with a family history of the condition) should get check-ups more frequently. Early detection by regular eye check up is the best way of tackling glaucoma. Another crucial aspect of glaucoma prevention is protecting the eyes from injury. Lastly managing underlying medical issues like diabetes and high blood sugar should be managed well in patients with glaucoma.
Proper and timely treatment can prevent further blindness. It is advisable to visit an ophthalmologist for regular preventive eye check-ups who can conduct special tests as needed and suggest treatment by medicines, lasers or glaucoma surgery. Allergan, an AbbVie company, is committed to raising awareness about this important issue.