Glaucoma is a group of disorders that damage the optic nerve of the eye, which carries visual signals from the retina to the brain, allowing us to see. In glaucoma, the optic nerve is slowly damaged, leading to gradual loss of vision and permanent blindness. Because the damage occurs slowly, it is often without symptoms and goes unnoticed until it is too late. As it progresses, glaucoma can lead to poor quality of life, increased risk of falls, decreased mobility, and difficulty with driving.
Glaucoma is often associated with increased pressure inside the eye. Healthy eyes produce fluid known as the aqueous, which flows through and exits the eye. In glaucoma, this process does not work properly, resulting in increased eye pressure and damage to the optic nerve.
Glaucoma does not cause blindness overnight. It is a slowly progressive disease.
Today, Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world after Cataract. Although glaucoma is more common in adults older than 60, it can develop at any age.
- Worldwide 60 million people are affected by Glaucoma.
- 12 million patients in India alone
- The frightening truth about Glaucoma is that blindness caused due to it is irreversible, unlike cataracts.
- But, the heartening and noteworthy fact is that blindness due to glaucoma is completely avoidable if detected and treated early.
A huge number of glaucoma blind people today is not because we don’t have a treatment for it, but mostly because most of us are totally ignorant & unaware of the existence of this blinding disease. Early detection is key to its prevention.
Who is at risk for Glaucoma?
- Any person aged 40 years and above.
- Family history of Glaucoma.
- With a history of previous eye injury.
- With history of long term steroid therapy (medications containing Betamethasone, Dexamethasone, prednisolone, etc.) in the form of eye drops, ointments, tablets, inhalers & skin ointments.
- Anyone using thick glasses
How is it diagnosed?
There is no screening test as on today, only a comprehensive eye examination can pick up early glaucoma. It includes :
Dilated fundus examination- back of the eye (optic nerve and retina).
Checking intraocular pressure with tonometry.