Awareness sessions on ‘sneak thief of sight’

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On World Glaucoma Week to be observed from March 7-13, opthalmologists in Hyderabad would organise awareness sessions on glaucoma, a name given to dozens of blinding eye conditions with a common feature of damage to optic nerve that gives one vision, colour vision and side vision.

“It is the latter that is preferentially damaged in glaucoma in a very slow manner such that the patient does not realise in the early stages until blindness creeps up,” the doctors stated.

Centre for Sight in the city would host awareness initiatives for ophthalmologists, medical community and public, to sensitise them on the permanently blinding eye disease.

5 lakh in TS affected

Senior glaucoma specialist Manoj Mathur said around 1.2 crore people in India are effected by glaucoma and approximately 5 lakh patients are from Telangana.

Vanita Pathak Ray, another glaucoma specialist at the Centre for Sight, said of the two varieties of glaucoma — Open Angle Glaucoma and Angle Closure Glaucoma, Telangana has high incidence of the latter, which impacts eyesight more severely.

Usually, the first line of treatment for patients is drugs or eye drops and if a person does not respond to drugs, surgery has to be resorted to.

Terming glaucoma ‘sneak thief of sight’, opthalmologists added that in majority of the cases, there are no symptoms in the early stages. Because of this, patients are often unable to tell if they have the disease and only an eye doctor who conducts specific tests for glaucoma can diagnose it. Regular check-up with an eye doctor, every one to two years, after 35-40 years is recommended.

There is no cure for glaucoma. It can only be controlled with eye drops, laser and surgery. Monitoring at periodic intervals throughout life would be required if it is detected, as suggested by eye specialists.

“There is no known cause for glaucoma. Among the risk factors for glaucoma are family history of glaucoma, associated risk factors like thyroid disorders, diabetes, hypertension, any history of eye injuries, excessive usage of steroids. The current treatment only prevents further damage in the eye. There is no treatment for reversal of the damage,” Dr Manoj said.

Meanwhile, Centre for Sight has launched endoscopic laser cyclophotocoagulation surgery that is used in the treatment of glaucoma.

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Kathy Laura

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