Saturday, March 11, 2017

World Glaucoma Awareness Week 12-19 March 2017

Glaucoma is incurable and lost vision cannot be restored . Early diagnosis is the only key to save and preserve your eyesight. 

I was diagnosed with Glaucoma six years ago ; after I had lost almost all my vision in one eye and the other fast following suit. If I had gone for a preventive check up even a year before that I could have saved most of the vision I have lost . 

This is because loss of sight in Glaucoma usually happens very slowly, over time and until the later stages of the disease may not affect vision at all. 

All the more reason to raise awareness of what is rightly called The Silent Thief of Sight - the second most common cause of blindness in the world after cataract and the leading cause of irreversible sight loss.

Coming under the High Risk scanner are senior citizens and the 40+ age group .

I was 59 when I was diagnosed . I have had three surgeries and both my eyes are affected . My mother was 60 when she was diagnosed. Yes, Glaucoma is hereditary but its onset can also be because of existing conditions like diabetes or just advancing age. 

It is vital that Preventive and Early Detection measures should be part of one's mandatory health check up .

It's World Glaucoma Week ( 12th to 19th March 2017) and a good time as any to get a full eye examination done by a qualified opthalmologist if you are over the age of 40. Make sure the eyes are dilated and then examined. Glaucoma is called the silent thief because it has no symptoms in the early stages and can have affected much of your optic nerve permanently before you notice any visual problems. Please also try and influence others to get a proper eye examination especially those who have little education and little awareness like your driver or domestic help and workers under your care. In India there is no compulsory eye tresting for driving licenses and this can be a safety hazard.  

The condition affects almost 70 million people worldwide, of which it is possible over a tenth have lost their sight completely. Both raising awareness as also spreading the important health message that will ensure people go for regular eye tests and monitor their eye health will help detect glaucoma earlier. Early detection and treatment are the only keys to preventing vision loss from Glaucoma. 

What is Glaucoma :

" It is the name for a group of eye conditions that cause sight loss due to damage to the optic nerve. This is the specialised cable of nerves that is responsible for sending signals from the eye to the brain. In glaucoma, high eye pressure plays a role in damaging the delicate nerve fibres of the optic nerve. When a significant number of nerve fibres are damaged, blind spots develop in the field of vision. Once nerve damage and visual loss occur, it is permanent. Most people don’t notice these blind areas until much of the optic nerve damage has already occurred. If the entire nerve is destroyed, blindness results.

It’s often (but not always) linked to high pressure in the eye. Healthy eyes hold their shape using fluid (aqueous humour) in the middle part of the eye and it stays at the right pressure because some drains away as more is made. If the eye can’t drain well enough, pressure inside the eye will rise. This damages the cells that together form the optic nerve.

If glaucoma is detected early, treatment with eyes drops to lower pressure can prevent sight loss. If left untreated glaucoma causes progressive sight lost that is irreversible. It is called the silent thief of sight – around half of the people with glaucoma are unaware of it. " 

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