L V Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) of Hyderabad will be organising series of activities in connection with World Glaucoma Week, from March 10 -16, 2019, to bring public focus on the eye disease that affects both adults and children.
As part of the programme a Glaucoma Awareness Walk is being organised on March 10 to raise awareness and knowledge on glaucoma, which is seen as the leading cause of irreversible blindness in India.
Glaucoma Education Forum will be conducted on March 15 to educate the public on the need for periodic eye check-up and the harmful effects of prolonged steroid use.
“Poor patient awareness makes glaucoma an extremely dangerous condition with high potential for causing irreversible visual impairment in millions of patients. Prevention and early treatment of glaucoma are key aspects in combating this disease,” said Dr Sirisha Senthil, Head of Glaucoma service, L V Prasad Eye Institute, in a press statement.
As the leading cause of irreversible blindness and a major contributor to vision impairment, glaucoma care needs to be a part of the strategies to deliver universal health coverage, Dr Senthil averred.
In India, 12 million people are affected with glaucoma, accounting for 12.8% of the blindness. Estimates suggest that nearly 80 million people will be living with some form of glaucoma by 2020. Many people with glaucoma are not diagnosed until they start turning blind.
Glaucoma is a complex condition and refers to a group of conditions that result in optic nerve damage and visual field loss. High intraocular pressure is a risk factor for glaucoma, together with other factors such as ethnicity, family history, high myopia and age.
In its most prevalent form – primary open-angle glaucoma – vision loss is silent, slow, and progressive. It typically affects peripheral vision first and as it progresses, central vision is lost. Eye injuries can result in traumatic glaucoma or secondary glaucoma.
In India, every eighth individual or nearly 40 million of the estimated 309 million population, aged 40 years or older, either has glaucoma or is at risk of developing the disease. The rate of undiagnosed glaucoma cases in India, is 90% in contrast to 40% to 60% in the developed world. Most of these patients present to the ophthalmologist either when they are visually disabled or permanently blind from the disease.
According to Andhra Pradesh Eye Disease Study (APEDS) childhood glaucoma occurs one in 3300 live births. It is more common in children born of consanguineous marriages. Most cases of paediatric glaucoma are diagnosed before the age of six months, with 80% diagnosed by the first year of life. It is crucial to recognise symptoms like enlarged or cloudy eyes, redness, often watering, tending to close the eyes in the presence of light, etc. Early diagnosis is important because secondary problems like myopia and amblyopia also can cause decreased vision.
Indiscriminate and long-term use of steroid can result in steroid-induced glaucoma. It occurs due to rise in the intraocular pressure with steroid administration. About 5% of the general population is “steroid responder”, i.e., may develop steroid-induced glaucoma when steroids are administered, according to the release.