New Delhi, March 12: Glaucoma is a public health issue of major concern globally as it is the second leading cause of vision loss after cataract, said Dr. Virat, an eye specialist at Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Hospital, on Saturday.
World Glaucoma Week is being observed from March 6 to 12 to draw the public’s attention to glaucoma, which is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in India. As per the WHO’s report of 2021, around 4.5 million people are blind due to glaucoma.
In India, glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness with at least 12 million people affected and nearly 1.2 million people blind from the disease. More than 90 percent of cases of glaucoma remain undiagnosed in the community.
Talking to IANS, Dr. Virat said that it can be prevented with early intervention. “Glaucoma is a condition where the pressure on the eye, called intraocular pressure increases like blood pressure of the body,” he said.
Intraocular pressure (IOP) is the fluid pressure of the eye. IOP is a measurement involving the magnitude of the force exerted by the aqueous humor on the internal surface area of the eye, Virat told IANS.
Drug defaulter, stopping the medication on its own, is the prime reason why we are losing the battle against glaucoma despite the timely diagnosis, said Dr. Vineet Sehgal, Delhi-based senior eye specialist. He said that glaucoma or Kala Motiya is a neurodegenerative disease of the second cranial nerve, the optic nerve.
“Glaucoma is symptomless in the early stage as there is no pain and no visual drop. Being a silent disease, it works like a slow poison for your eyes. Patients with glaucoma are not reminded by symptoms of the disease regarding the importance of taking prescribed medication which leads to poor adherence to medication and worsens the disease,” said Vineet.
Talking about the irreversible nature of glaucoma, he added that patients have to realize medication can only prevent glaucoma and not reverse it. He said that due to the heavy expenses of glaucoma medication, sometimes patients stop the medicines which also contributes towards an advanced level of vision loss.
“Sometimes some anti-glaucoma medications can give rise to redness of eyes or dark circles around eyes which become a matter of concern, especially with female patients. Without weighing pros and cons, patients discontinue treatment,” said Vineet.
“It is important to educate people about the disease which has no symptoms but can cause blindness silently by damaging the optic nerve. People with a family history of diabetes, hypertension, and poor blood circulation are especially at an elevated risk of getting the condition,” said Dr. Ritika Sachdev, an eye specialist.