Mohammed Sohaib Mustafa

Last month’s glaucoma awareness week was an initiative to raise public understanding of the second leading cause of blindness worldwide.

Each year it presents an opportunity to highlight the importance of early detection of glaucoma, and the treatment options available in the UAE. Screening for the disease and then compliance with the treatment regime are two important messages for the community to absorb.
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that cause progressive damage of the optic nerve at the point where it leaves the eye to carry visual information to the brain. According to the World Health Organisation, the number of people estimated to be blind as a result of primary glaucoma is 4.5 million, accounting for slightly more than 12 per cent of all global blindness. The primary risk factors that are linked to the onset of the disease are age and genetic predisposition.
Some forms of glaucoma may occur at birth (“congenital”) or during infancy and childhood (“juvenile”). In most cases, glaucoma appears after the fourth decade of life and its frequency increases with age. Further risk factors include genetics and family history, and other conditions including diabetes, which is very common in the UAE.
Glaucoma currently affects more than 60 million people worldwide. Unfortunately, many are unaware that they have it until there is a large amount of irreversible vision loss.
If left untreated, most types of glaucoma progress (without warning or obvious symptoms to the patient) towards gradually worsening visual damage and may lead to blindness. Once incurred, visual damage is mostly irreversible, and this has led to glaucoma being described as the “silent blinding disease” or the “sneak thief of sight”.
It was once believed that the cause of most or all glaucomas was high pressure within the eye (known as intraocular pressure – sometimes abbreviated as IOP).
It is now established however, that even people without an abnormally high IOP may suffer from glaucoma. Intraocular pressure is considered therefore today as a “risk factor”, together with other factors such as racial ancestry, family history, high myopia and age……..
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Source: The National Opinion