Glaucoma refers to an eye condition that develops because of excessive fluid pressure in the eye. This high internal pressure can affect the optic nerve that transfers images from the retina to the brain. Glaucoma was first noticed in the 17th century but it was only in the 19th century, it was known to be a cause of blindness. The word glaucoma was often called blindness in the Hippocratic Aphorisms.
Today, Glaucoma is the second leading cause of irreversible blindness in India after Cataract. Presently, close to 13 million people are suffering from this disease, out of which 7 lakh are declared blind. Estimates demonstrate that individuals above 40 years of age are at high risk of developing glaucoma.
Leading ophthalmologists in India say that patients having chronic headaches, inability to perform daily tasks in dim light, bumping into objects or redness in one/both eyes should take professional help. The doctor will perform an extensive eye examination and look for any evidence of optic nerve damage and the eye pressure.
Glaucoma can occur due to various other reasons like an injury to the eye, healed corneal ulcers, uveitis and diabetic retinal. Ophthalmologists attending such patients must check for the earliest signs of glaucoma in order to prevent unnecessary worsening of vision.
Individuals must be made aware that persistent use of steroids to cure allergies and chronic diseases can cause glaucoma and avoidable visual loss. Such patients should be given appropriate counseling through proper channels, for e.g. free eye checkup camps.
It is important to highlight the fact that early treatment can alleviate the glaucoma vision loss and prevent blindness but only with improved medication and safer surgery. For early treatment, it is important to catch the disease at initial stages.
People normally are unaware of their glaucoma symptoms because of absence of regular eye examination. Awareness at all health facilities in the country need to be augmented, displaying the commonness of the disease and the need for regular eye checkup after the age of 40. The most common form of glaucoma occurs in individuals, who use steroids in multiple forms, have heart ailments or diabetes/high blood pressure.
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