Don’t turn a blind eye to glaucoma

By admin
19 September 2013

Have you noticed your vision isn’t 20/20, the way it used to be? You might be suffering from a prevalent ocular disease called glaucoma.

Eyecare Awareness Month runs from 23 September to 10 October, and according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness from which 12,5 per cent of South Africans over the age of 40 suffer.

New, improved technology such as the latest polametry laser instrument provides optometrists with unparalleled data, making early diagnosis possible.

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma starts when the eye’s optic nerve is damage due to an excessive amount of pressure-inducing fluid entering the eye. Normally clear liquid enters the anterior chamber in the front part of the eye to moisten and cleanse sensitive tissue. Glaucoma occurs when the liquid doesn’t drain quickly enough to make space for fresh liquid and therefore pressure builds up in the eye.  Glaucoma can be found in different forms, however the two main types are open- and closed-angle glaucoma.

Open-angle glaucoma

Known as the most common type, with no painful symptoms or recognisable vision loss, the disease is only noticed by patients once it’s reached an advanced stage. Early diagnosis with laser treatment is necessary to prevent complete blindness. Depending on the severity, it can be treated with eye drops or surgery.

Closed-angle glaucoma

In closed-angle glaucoma, pressure in the eye builds up rapidly and therefore it’s also known as acute or narrow-angle glaucoma. Common symptoms include headaches, eye pain, nausea, and halos around lights at night as well as blurred vision.  A patient would normally be treated with laser or other forms of surgery in which the liquid is drained from the eye.

Early detection

According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation (GRF) in San Francisco in the US, patients with primary open-angle glaucoma could lower their ocular pressure by doing regular exercise.

Werner No?th, an optometrist from Vision Optometrists, suggests regular optometric check-ups are the only guaranteed method to detect the disease.

The following questions have been put together to help identify whether you might be at risk.

  1. Are you older than 40 year and have a family history of glaucoma?
  2. Are you from African decent (Africans are six to eight times more prone to the disease)?
  3. Do you experience an increased pressure in your eye socket?
  4. Do you suffer from diabetes?

GRF has calculated an estimated number of suspected glaucoma cases at more than 60 million cases worldwide, which means almost more than half of these individuals are unaware they’re affected by this disease.

Source: Vision Optometrists

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