Anything Under the Sun
Friday, March 7, 2008
Taking Sight for granted
Glaucoma, it sneaks up on you and steals your sight. There is no pain and there are no symptoms. That is why about half of all sufferers worldwide lose a large part of their vision before they even discover they have this optic nerve disease.
Unlike cataracts, this disease cannot be cured, and once blindness sets in, it is irreversible. TOO LATE!
Yesterday, 6Th March was the first World Glaucoma Day, where health-care institutions come together to raise the awareness of the disease.
Glaucoma is the second top cause of blindness in the world and it was stated that Chinese are at high risk. People with high blood pressure, smokers and those who are short-sighted may be more likely to get the other main form of the disease - open-angle glaucoma.
Glaucoma - from the Wikipedia
Glaucoma is a group of diseases of the optic nerve involving loss of retinal ganglion cells in a characteristic pattern of optic neuropathy. Although raised intraocular pressure is a significant risk factor for developing glaucoma, there is no set threshold for intraocular pressure that causes glaucoma. One person may develop nerve damage at a relatively low pressure, while another person may have high eye pressure for years and yet never develop damage. Untreated glaucoma leads to permanent damage of the optic nerve and resultant visual field loss, which can progress to blindness.
Glaucoma has been nicknamed "sneak thief of sight" because the loss of visual field often occurs gradually over a long time and may only be recognised when it is already quite advanced. Once lost, this damaged visual field can never be recovered. Worldwide, it is the second leading cause of blindness. Glaucoma affects one in two hundred people aged fifty and younger, and one in ten over the age of eighty.
People with a family history of glaucoma have about a six percent chance of developing glaucoma. Diabetics and those of African descent are three times more likely to develop primary open angle glaucoma. Asians are prone to develop angle-closure glaucoma, and Inuit have a twenty to forty times higher risk than Caucasians of developing primary angle closure glaucoma. Women are three times more likely than men to develop acute angle-closure glaucoma due to their shallower anterior chambers. Use of steroids can also cause glaucoma. Those at risk for glaucoma are advised to have a dilated eye examination at least once a year.
Although intraocular pressure is only one major risk factors of glaucoma, lowering it via pharmaceuticals or surgery is currently the mainstay of glaucoma treatment. In Europe, Japan, and Canada laser treatment is often the first line of therapy. In the U.S., adoption of early laser has lagged, even though prospective, multi-centered, peer-reviewed studies, since the early '90s, have shown laser to be at least as effective as topical medications in controlling intraocular pressure and preserving visual field.
I believe this is one case where ignorance is NOT a bliss. Sight is such an important faculty that most of us will be at a loss without it. Since Glaucoma is not treatable, we can only take preventive action. If you believe that you have a high risk of this disease, do go for a dilated eye examination.