By Dr S.S. Gill
In conjunction with World Glaucoma Week 2019, Ipoh Echo talks to Consultant Eye Surgeon Dr S.S. Gill about this “silent thief of sight.” – PART 1
Worldwide, too many people are unaware of this “silent” disease which results in vision loss without receiving the appropriate treatment. Early detection and treatment is key to preventing blindness.
The World Glaucoma Association (WGA) and the World Glaucoma Patient Association (WGPA) are pushing hard to increase global awareness of this “Sneak Thief of Sight” by starting on the ‘B-I-G – Beat Invisible Glaucoma’ campaign between March 10 to 16 this year.
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 many symptoms until you eventually lose significant 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 50 and younger, and one in 10 over the age of eighty. As many as six 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.
One reason why a person may not realise that he or she is losing vision is because the vision loss involves the peripheral part of a person’s vision (adjacent pic). This SLOW peripheral vision loss is the reason why it goes unnoticed by the patient until the very late stage when the central vision is completely lost. Rarely, in some patients there may be symptoms of slight eye discomfort, mild headache and halos around lights.
Any person who is 40 years and above should go for glaucoma screening. More so, if you have a family history of glaucoma and have never been screened for glaucoma yourself, you should go for an eye check as soon as you can.
More on Glaucoma in the next issue of the Ipoh Echo.