8 March : Glaucoma is the commonest cause of irreversible blindness. According to World Health Organization estimates, about 314 million people around the world have impaired vision, due either to eye diseases or uncorrected refractive errors. Of theses, 45 million people are blind. More than 82% of all blind are 50 years of age or older and more than 90% of the world’s visually impaired people live in developing countries. Top five causes of blindness are cataract, refractive errors, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. These account for 75% of all visual impairment.
Glaucoma is third major cause of blindness after cataract and uncorrected refractory errors. Blindness due to cataract and refractive errors is reversible; in contrast, blindness due to glaucoma is irreversible. Glaucoma can not be cured but blindness due to glaucoma can be prevented by timely diagnosis and intervention.
Estimated projections indicate that 4.5 million people will be blind due to open-angle glaucoma and 3.9 million due to primary angle closure glaucoma by 2010. Currently, about 60 million people suffer from glaucoma. This number is expected to increase to 80 million by 2020 due mainly to increase in the ageing population.
Glaucoma (Kala Motia) is a term used to describe a group of conditions that damage the optic nerve and cause loss vision. Optic nerve is the connection between the eye and the brain. Once optic nerve is damaged image from the eye can not be transmitted to the brain. Two main types of glaucoma are open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma which could be primary in nature or a result of some other disease (secondary glaucoma). Open-angle glaucoma is more frequent in western populations, while angle-closure variety is more common in South-East Asia. Secondary glaucoma can occur due to a variety of reasons such as trauma to the eye, use of certain drugs like steroids, inflammation of the eye and blockage the blood vessels of the retina. Diabetes and hypertension are common causes of blockage of retinal blood vessels. Primary types of glaucoma generally occur in people above 40 years of age. The risk of developing glaucoma increases with increasing age. Other risk factors include raised pressure inside the eye, a family member having glaucoma and certain ethnic groups are more likely to develop glaucoma. There is no prevention for open angle glaucoma, but acute attacks of angle-closure glaucoma and more chronic forms of the disease can be prevented by early detection, followed by laser treatment. Blindness can be prevented in both types of glaucoma by timely intervention.
World Glaucoma day is celebrated on March 12 every year. Purpose is to increase public awareness about this blinding disease. The program has been run very successfully in previous years with worldwide participation of various government and non-government organizations. This year this year the program has been extended for a whole week from Mach 7 – 13, 2010..
We at Advanced Eye Center, PGIMER, Chandigarh, are committed to the cause of preventing blindness due to glaucoma. During this week we plan to give information about glaucoma through printed as well as electronic media in the form of press releases, radio and television interviews. Posters will be displayed at prominent places. There will be a lecture for the public at Advanced Eye Center Auditorium on March 12, 2010 at 4 PM. This will be combined with a meeting of the Glaucoma Support Group, Chandigarh, which was created in 2007. We at PGI have the latest facilities and equipment to diagnose glaucoma early. Glaucoma treatment includes use of eye drops, lasers and surgery. Advanced Eye Centre takes pride in providing comprehensive glaucoma care for our patients.