Raising awareness to avoid blindness due to Glaucoma – the silent thief of vision

Raising awareness to avoid blindness due to Glaucoma – the silent thief of vision

 

the silent thief of visionHyderabad, 13th March 2023: L V Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI), observes World Glaucoma Week, every year across its network, to bring public focus on this eye disease that can affect both adults and children. World Glaucoma Week is a joint global initiative of the World Glaucoma Association and the World Glaucoma Patients Association.

L V Prasad Eye Institute hosted a Glaucoma Awareness Walk to spread information about the dreaded Glaucoma disease, from LVPEI’s Banjara Hills campus, today. Chief Guest Sailesh Kolanu, Renowned Film Director and Screenwriter and Guest of Honour and Tollywood Actor of Colour Photo movie fame Suhas Pagolu, flagged off the walk. Dr Siddharth Dikshit, Glaucoma Consultant; Dr Sirisha Senthil, Senior Glaucoma Consultant; Dr Anil Kumar Mandal, Senior Glaucoma Consultant, L V Prasad Eye Institute; participated in the walk along with other Doctors, Patients, and Volunteers.

Speaking on the occasion Sailesh Kolanu said, whole heartedly applaud the doctors and medical professionals here for the wonderful work they are doing, day in and day out to ensure that the poorest man can access the best eye care. LV Prasad Eye Institute is acknowledged for its yeoman service. It is very important to be aware of Glaucoma, because it can steal your eyesight before your realise the damage it has done, Therefore it is necessary to undergo an eye check up every year, that way the disease can be detected at an early stage and help prevent the vision loss.

Suhas Pagolu said, till yesterday I wasn’t aware of this scary disease of the eye called Glaucoma and the serious harm it can cause to vision. Also understand that this disease creeps in to our eye without we realising it and the only way we can prevent it is through a regular eye check-up.

Dr Sirisha Senthil, said, there is hardly any awareness about Glaucoma disease, most people express their ignorance about the disease. In India the top most cause of irreversible blindness is Glaucoma. This is one of the most common diseases in people above 40 years of age, one in every ten people either suffer from this disease or are at risk to suffer from the disease. One of the reasons for 90% of the public in India being unaware of this disease is its lack of symptoms. Mostly its detected after the person loses 90% of his sight, but its late by then. There is no treatment for this disease, currently we can only prevent further damage at whatever stage the disease is detected, but can’t restore the lost vision. Therefore we need to create awareness about this disease for people to undergo regular eye check-up. If a family member has Glaucoma it is essential for the entire family to get checked. Even infants can be born with glaucoma, a one day old baby can be diagnosed with Glaucoma. It’s a misconception of Glaucoma being an old age phenomenon, it can be found even in an infant too.

Dr Anil Kumar Mandal said Glaucoma can affect any individual, be it newborn baby, children, adolescents or adults. The detection of the disease should be done as early as possible and treated immediately. It’s a disease that requires life long follow-up after detection and treatment. This walk is being organized to create collective awareness.

As part of the World Glaucoma Week, 12 – 18 March 2023, L V Prasad Eye Institute’s Kallam Anji Reddy Campus in Hyderabad; is organizing a Patient Interactive Forum, in addition to Awareness Walk held today, during the week, to raise awareness about early detection and treatment of vision-threatening Glaucoma eye disease. Patient Interactive Forum is a live patient interactive patient forum in six different languages of Bengali, English, Hindi, Kannada, Odiya and Telugu. It will be held on 15 March 2023 from 3:30 – 4:30 pm through LVPEI’s YouTube channel. People can send in their queries using the below link. These queries will be answered by the LVPEI Glaucoma specialists during the live patient interactive session.

Glaucoma is an eye problem associated with an increase in eye pressure and is characterized by damage to the optic nerve leading to irreversible blindness. It is the most common cause of irreversible vision loss globally. The global estimates predict that the number of patients with glaucoma will rise from 76 million to 111.8 million by 2040, with majority of these patients residing in Africa and Asia. Available statistics indicate that 1.12 crore Indians (4.5% of the Indian population) suffer from glaucoma, including children, of which 11 lakh people have turned blind.

“A person with glaucoma will not have any early symptoms or pain despite the increase of eye pressure till 90% of vision is lost. Vision once lost due to glaucoma cannot be restored, and that is why it is also called the ‘Silent Thief of Vision’. Vision once lost cannot be restored, but an eye specialist with early detection and treatment can help in safeguarding and preserving your remaining vision. Patients who present in early stages have no visual disability and can lead completely normal life. A basic eye examination for glasses (undilated eye examination) cannot detect glaucoma. Only a comprehensive eye examination that includes an eye pressure check, dilated fundus examination and a gonioscopy (in certain cases) can help in detecting glaucoma early,” says Dr Siddharth Dikshit, Glaucoma Consultant, L V Prasad Eye Institute.

Even though 80% of blindness from glaucoma is preventable, almost 7 million people worldwide turn blind due to glaucoma, with 2/3rd of them being women. This is because a whopping 90% of glaucoma cases go undetected, presumably due to a lack of awareness.

“Glaucoma more commonly affects people beyond the age of 40 years, especially those who have high myopia or are diabetic (one in eight people above 40 years of age are at risk for glaucoma). Those having a family history of glaucoma or those who have sustained eye injuries or have undergone eye surgeries are also vulnerable to developing glaucoma. They should get their eyes checked annually to rule out glaucoma” adds Dr Dikshit.

Another word of caution by the doctors is that steroids should be judiciously and only under medical supervision. Excessive use of steroids can also lead to Glaucoma. People for whom it is necessary to use steroids, such as eye drops, inhalers, ointments or tablets, they should also get their eyes checked regularly.

Points to keep in mind:

  •  While it is true that people over 40 are at a greater risk of developing open-angle glaucoma, there are other types of Glaucoma (some very severe) that can affect people younger than 40.
  •  Even young newborns and infants, due to abnormal eye development, can develop Glaucoma. These children present with large bluish eyes.
  •  Can a cataract surgery (to place a lens) restore vision lost due to Glaucoma? Just as a camera whose film (or the 100 megapixel sensor) is damaged, cannot be repaired by changing the lens, an eye with Glaucoma will not benefit with cataract extraction and intraocular lens placement alone.

Treatment

  •  Depending on the type, severity and previous history, glaucoma can be treated with medications (usually eye drops), lasers (of various kinds) and surgery, if required
  •  The treatment for glaucoma aims at controlling the eye pressure and preventing further vision loss due to glaucoma.
  •  Glaucoma surgery is not usually aimed at improving, but preserving the remaining vision.
  •  Accompanying cataract surgery, when the eye has cataract, can recover the vision the vision attributable to cataract.

Rabindra

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