Early detection is key to check glaucoma, say experts

Glaucoma is irreversible and usually asymptomatic, unlike cataract, say doctors.

Glaucoma is irreversible and usually asymptomatic, unlike cataract, say doctors.  

‘An estimated 4 % of general population are suffering from the ailment’

Early detection of glaucoma is the key to arrest damage to eyes as the disease as the ailment is irreversible and usually asymptomatic, unlike cataract, Dr. T. Raveendra, head of glaucoma and anterior segment of Sankar Foundation Eye Hospital has said.

“Periodic screening for those above 40 years of age is advisable. High risk groups such as those with a family history of glaucoma and diabetics must do it to prevent further damage of their eyes,” Dr. Raveendra told The Hindu as the World Glaucoma Week began on Sunday.

Glaucoma damages the optic nerves which connects eyes to the brain, usually due to high eye pressure. It normally happens when fluid builds up in the front part of eyes. The extra fluid increases the pressure, damaging the nerves, he explains.

Referring to the incidence of the ailment, Dr. Raveendra says an estimated 4 % of the general population and 10 % among those with a previous family history are suffering from it. “The problem with patients is that they tend to discontinue using medicines, once they get some relief and the deterioration of sight continues. They must understand that once damage is done, there is no way of reversing it and the patient would become blind gradually,” he says.

Primary Open Angle Glaucoma (POAG) is a common variant, which does not show any symptoms such as eye pain and sudden visual disturbance. Primary Angle Closure Glaucoma (PACG), though less common, shows such symptoms.

‘Awareness needed’

“Awareness is the need of hour to educate people on the importance of regular eye testing after 40 years of age,” Visakha Ophthalmic Society secreatary Dr. Raveendra said. Though glaucoma in children is rare, it is being seen at the outreach camps conducted by the Sankar Foundation Hospital. The incidence of paediatric glaucoma is estimated to be 1 in 10,000 births. In children, the size of the eye ball increases, unlike in adults. The problem is neglected even by parents till the child does not complain of vision disturbances, he explains.

Diagnostic tests

The basic tests include eye pressure check up, optic nerve examination and gonioscopy. The advanced tests are visual field analysis, optical coherence, tomography and pachymetry. “A child affected by glaucoma, if not treated early, could be blind,” Dr. Raveendra adds.

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 3:57:19 PM |

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