Glaucoma also known as 'Kala Motai' is a very common eye disease seen mostly in people above the age 40. WHO ranks Glaucoma as the second most common cause of blindness in the world. In India we have about 12 million people suffering from this disease.
Glaucoma is most often asymptomatic in the initial stages as it affects the peripheral field of our vision and it goes unnoticed till the vision in one eye is lost or the advanced field loss makes it difficult to cope up with day to day activities.
In glaucoma the optic nerve of the eye which in turn sends signals to the brain gets affected slowly and the elevated eye pressure is the most common risk factor.
It is important to detect glaucoma in its initial stages as it is not reversible and cannot be cured, but timely detection can help arrest the disease so that the patient never develops any visual disability.
To detect glaucoma in its early stages it is very important that all people should go through routine comprehensive eye examination every year by a trained ophthalmologist after the age of 40. The routine eye examination must include vision test, eye pressure measurment, good eye examination on the slit lamp ( the machine mounted on a table to see the eye under magnification), and dilated retinal and optic nerve examination. If there is any doubt of glaucoma then your doctor might advice some specialized tests like gonioscopy, computerised field test, central corneal thickness and nerve fibre analysis.
Glaucoma can be seen at any age but is most commonly seen after 40. The following risk factors increase the chances of glaucoma - age above 40, family history of glaucoma, diabetes or hypertension, history of any blunt injury to the eye, use of steroids in the past and use of spectacles from young age ( farsightedness or near sighted). Patients with any of the above risk factors must have routine eye exams at regular intervals.
The treatment of glaucoma is mainly with eye drops that need to be used daily on long term basis. In some cases laser treatment is also advocated and is a very small and safe procedure. In advnced cases glaucoma surgery may be required. All traetment modalities aim at stopping glaucoma damage from progressing and not aimed and reversing the disease.
It is very important to bring about awareness of this common eye disease to protect the eyes from this 'silent killer'. World Glaucoma week is celebrated every year in March world wide to increase awareness. This year ICARE Eye Hospital, Noida in association with the Glaucoma Society of India is organising a walk on 11th march at 9 am and welcomes all to join in this effort. ICARE Eye Hospital is also offering free eye screening for glaucoma through out the glaucoma week from 2-4pm (12th- 17th March).
Dr.Reena Choudhry is a Senior Glaucoma, Squint & Anterior Segment Consultant at ICARE Eye Hospital, Noida.