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Why Is Glaucoma Regarded As The ‘Silent Thief Of Vision’? Expert Explains

Often referred to as the ‘silent thief of sight’, glaucoma is an eye condition that often goes undetected until irreversible vision loss occurs. It is known to silently and gradually damage the optic nerve, mostly without any noticeable symptoms. Despite glaucoma being prevalent throughout the ages, there is currently no cure, making it a primary cause of irreversible blindness globally. In India, glaucoma is a significant public health concern, with an estimated 12 million people affected by the condition.

In a conversation with Jagran English, Dr Mithun M Pai, Senior Consultant – Glaucoma and Cataract, Nethradhama Super Speciality Eye Hospital, Rajajinagar, Bangalore explained how glaucoma affects our vision.

According to statistics, in India, approximately 11.9 million people are affected by glaucoma, with 8.9 million suffering from blindness. Glaucoma is responsible for 12.8% of cases of blindness in the country. Despite its prevalence, there is a lack of awareness about the causes and symptoms of glaucoma, leading to delayed diagnosis and detection of the disease at advanced stages in many patients.

Symptoms of Glaucoma

The symptoms of glaucoma can vary depending on the type and stage of the disease. In open-angle glaucoma, which is the most common form, symptoms are often very subtle and include gradual vision loss and peripheral vision disturbances. On the other hand, closed-angle glaucoma can cause sudden vision changes, such as blurry vision, halos around lights, and poor night vision. Immediate intervention is crucial as it may lead to total and permanent blindness if left untreated.

Treatment Of Glaucoma

The first course of glaucoma treatment is to lower intraocular pressure (IOP) to prevent further damage to the optic nerve. Treatment options include prescription eye drops, oral medications, laser treatment surgery like Trabeculectomy, or a combination of these methods. With the introduction of advanced therapies in the ophthalmology space such as the iStent inject W, management of glaucoma has seen revolutionary changes through micro-invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS). The choice of treatment depends on the severity and progression of the disease, and regular check-ups are necessary to monitor the effectiveness of treatment.

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Prevention Of Glaucoma

While there is no certain way to prevent glaucoma, certain risk factors can increase the chances of developing the disease. These include age, nearsightedness (myopia), family history, eye injury, certain eye surgeries, and medical conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. It is important to have annual eye check-ups done with an ophthalmologist to arrest the progression at an early stage. Glaucoma could be prevented with early detection, diagnosis and prompt treatment.

According to Dr Pai, glaucoma awareness is the need of the hour to prompt early diagnosis and due treatment which are essential in slowing the advancement of glaucoma. Educating people about the condition and its risk factors can help in preventing the blindness it causes. It will enable people to be more prepared to take preventive actions and seek eye care from ophthalmologists to stop the disease’s advancement.

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