By Dr S.S. Gill
In Conjunction with World Glaucoma Week 2018, Ipoh Echo Talks to Consultant Eye Surgeon Dr S.S. Gill.
Worldwide, too many people are unaware of the effects of irreversible blindness due to glaucoma. Without receiving the appropriate treatment this “silent” disease will continue to cause vision loss. Early detection and treatment are the keys to preventing blindness.
The World Glaucoma Association (WGA) and the World Glaucoma Patient Association (WGPA) have merged in its efforts to increase global awareness of this “Sneak Thief of Sight” by starting on the ‘B-I-G – Beat Invisible Glaucoma’ campaign between March 11 to 17.
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that result in progressive damage of the optic nerve (the “main cable” that carries visual information from the eye to the brain). If glaucoma is not treated, it permanently damages vision in the affected eye(s) and results in blindness. Glaucoma has been nicknamed the “silent thief of sight” because the vision loss normally occurs gradually over a long period of time without significant symptoms until you eventually lose vision. In other words, it means that one will only notice poor vision when the disease is serious and the damage to the optic nerve is advanced.
Worldwide, glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness after cataracts. Glaucoma affects one in 200 people aged fifty and younger, and one in 10 over the age of eighty. As many as 6 million people are blind in both eyes from glaucoma today. Most of these people were once unaware they had this disease until they lost significant vision in one or both eyes.
A person may not realise that he or she is losing vision because the gradual vision loss involves the peripheral part of a person’s vision which often goes unnoticed until the very late stage when the central vision starts being affected. Rarely, in some patients there may be symptoms of slight eye discomfort, mild headache and haloes around lights. Everyone who is 40 years and above should go for glaucoma screening, especially if you have a family history of glaucoma. Don’t wait for vision problems before you do. It may be too late.