Glaucoma

Glaucoma, the Sneak Thief of Sight

Glaucoma, the Sneak Thief of Sight

Dr Harsha Rao, Consultant Ophthalmologist, Glaucoma Centre, L V Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad

Glaucoma is a disease that affects the optic nerve of the eye and is characterized by shrinkage of the field of vision. In India, 11.2 million are estimated to be affected by the disease, with 1.1 million rendered blind.

Worryingly, almost 90% of glaucoma in the community is undetected, because in most cases, there are no symptoms until the person experiences loss of vision. That is why glaucoma is also referred to as the ‘sneak thief of sight’.

Importantly, damage to the optic nerve cannot be reversed, so vision once lost because of glaucoma cannot be regained. But if detected early, vision loss can be avoided, or delayed. So it is extremely important to undergo complete eye examinations regularly, particularly so if one has a family history of glaucoma, high blood pressure, diabetes or has injured the eye, or is over 40 years of age.

Among the various risk factors for the development of glaucoma, the most important treatable one is the increased pressure inside the eyeball, called Intraocular Pressure (IOP).

A complete eye examination to detect glaucoma includes:

  • A slit lamp biomicroscopic evaluation to examine all the structures of the eye,
  • IOP measurement using an instrument called tonometer
  • An examination of the status of the drainage channels of the eye using an instrument called gonioscope, and
  • An examination of the status of the drainage channels of the eye using an instrument called gonioscope, and

To control the IOP, the usual treatment is by drops, and sometimes, laser treatment. Trabeculectomy surgery may be prescribed to make an alternate pathway for the fluid to drain out of the eye, but surgery is not a cure and it is extremely important to undergo checkups regularly even after the surgery.

Remember, glaucoma is potentially blinding. So, if diagnosed, you must undergo regular and lifelong treatment to prevent progression of glaucoma damage. Ask your eye doctor all the questions and doubts you may have. Staying informed can help you tackle the ‘sneak thief of sight’!

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