Glaucoma Needs More Attention, Says Expert- Learn More About Causes And Symptoms
Glaucoma: According to Dr Tanuj Dada, you must get an eye check-up done once in two years after the age of 40, and every year after the age of 60. Doing so can help in prevention, timely diagnosis and effective treatment of glaucoma.
Glaucoma is largley asymptomatic
- Get eye check-ups regularly for prevention of glaucoma
- Glaucoma may cause irreversible blindness
- Nearly 80 million people are affected by glaucoma
Glaucoma is referred to a group of eye conditions which damage the optic nerve. The optic nerve plays a key role in good vision. Abnormally high blood pressure in the eye could be a possible cause for damage to the optic nerve. Glaucoma is known to be one of the leading causes of blindness for people above the age of 60. Shedding more light on the condition is Dr Tanuj Dada, Professor of Ophthalmology, Dr Rajendra Prasad Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
In a telephonic conversation, Dr Tada elaborates on why glaucoma needs more attention, who is at higher risk of developing it, how it can be treated and much more.
Glaucoma: Here's everything you need to know
Why does this concern needs more attention?
Glaucoma currently is leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide and in India. Nearly 80 million people are affected by this disease.
Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve of the eye. The eyes are like a camera which takes pictures from the surroundings - that is then conveyed to the human brain and to the eye via optic nerve. In glaucoma, the optic nerve gets damaged usually due to the increase in pressure of the optic nerves and decrease in the blood supply to the optic nerve. This damage gradually increases and whatever blindness occurs due to glaucoma, it is irreversible.
Who is at greater risk of developing glaucoma?
The major risk is to the siblings and relatives of patients who have glaucoma. Patients with cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, thyroid disorder, having any kind of trauma to eyes or people who take steroid medicines are at higher risk of glaucoma. If your eye pressure is on higher side, there is an increased risk of developing a glaucoma.
How is glaucoma treated?
Glaucoma is largely asymptomatic. It is commonly known as silent thief of vision too. Till a very advanced stage, glaucoma may show no symptoms. For early diagnosis of the condition, timely eye check-ups are important. People above the age of 40 should get a comprehensive eye check-up once in two years. Those above the age of 60 should get it at least once in a year. Doing so can help in early diagnosis and effective treatment of glaucoma. Once the disease is at an advantage stage or you have lost the vision, no therapy can reverse the blindness.
The therapy consists of three parts: One eye drop, second is laser and if the eye pressure is not controlled, then you have to go for glaucoma surgery.
Are there any lifestyle-related changes that can help in preventing glaucoma?
People who take a lot of stress generally have high cortisol (endogenous corticosteroids) production. This can lead to a rise in intraocular pressure. High intraocular pressure is also known as ocular hypertension. If you do meditation or deep breathing, it can reduce intraocular pressure and endogenous corticosteroids. Doing these relaxing activities can also improve your overall quality of life.
How can one improve quality of life with glaucoma?
There are two key issues: first is even if you are healthy, you should go for a preventive health check-up and eye check-up after age of 40. Second, having been diagnosed with glaucoma, the eye drops are prescribed for life., One should set an alarm on a daily basis to make sure that they use the eye drop without fail.
Point to note: Remember, eye drops are not going to improve your vision. They are just going to preserve whatever version you have. If you use eyedrops regularly and visit the doctor preferably once or twice in a year, your eye condition can be preserved.
Also, many kids have eye allergies these days, thanks to air pollution. Parents should avoid buying eye drops directly from a chemist or any unqualified expert. These may contain steroids, which are one of the major causes of glaucoma in kids.
(Dr Tanuj Dada, Professor of Ophthalmology, Dr Rajendra Prasad Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS))
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