Everything you must know about Glaucoma

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Glaucoma is the second most common cause of irreversible blindness worldwide, after Cataract, says the World Health Organization (WHO) 2020 report. It is estimated that the global burden of Glaucoma was around 79.6 million until last year, with almost half of them being Asian. In India particularly, blindness due to Glaucoma is a growing cause of concern. It has affected around 11.9 million Indians. It is a multifactorial condition resulting from progressive Optic Neuropathy and visual field loss. These changes are often slow, and many Glaucoma patients do not know about their underlying glaucomatous eye.

Glaucoma is a disease that involves damage to the optic nerve of the eye, causing permanent blindness due to rising pressure within the eye. The rise in pressure is gradual and the damage is slow. There may be some early signs and symptoms like pain & heaviness of eyes, haloes around lights in the evening, regular change of glass power and redness of eyes. Therefore, it is imperative to get your eyes checked each year after the age of 40yrs, to detect Glaucoma. It involves checking vision, optic nerve examination, measurement of eye pressure, and in suspicious cases, tests like perimetry & OCT.

Well, those with a family history of Glaucoma, people with minus power, those above the age of 40yrs, those with a history of eye injury like tennis ball hit in the past, people on steroids for other diseases, and also those who have Diabetes & Hypertension are people more at risk. Sometimes certain eye diseases like inflammations can also cause Glaucoma.

At times, children can also be affected with Glaucoma. This happens when there is a development-related issue called Congenital or Juvenile Glaucoma. Also, sometimes in adults, it may be present as an acute rise in pressure called ‘acute angle-closure Glaucoma’ where the patient may suffer acute pain, redness and blurred vision. In most cases, this remains undetected unless seen by an eye doctor and therefore poses a higher risk of blindness. Hence, a periodic examination is a must, especially with the above risk factors.

Treatment options: Control of eye pressure is the only way we can halt the progress of Glaucoma. However, the damage which has already occurred cannot be reversed. For controlling the pressure, we have eyedrops which can be given as single or as combinations. If it remains uncontrolled. then a laser procedure can be done. As a last resort, surgical control with filtration surgery or tube shunt procedures is employed.


What food to avoid:
While most people may not know this, but food that we eat can affect our eyes greatly. It can cause direct or indirect harm to the optic nerve and raise intraocular pressure:

Trans-fats can harm blood vessels, which can damage the optic nerve. Avoiding fried foods and processed foods high in trans-fats (such as French fries, fried Chicken, and potato chips) can help

Saturated fats cause weight gain, which raises the Body-Mass Index (BMI). A high BMI has been linked to intraocular pressure and Glaucoma. It’s best to avoid foods high in saturated fats such as Butter, Cheese, and whole Milk, and such fatty meats as Salami and Bacon

Caffeinated Coffee may increase the eye pressure, so avoid over consumption

Also in narrow angles of the eye, too much and too long near work can cause intermittent rise in eye pressure. It is important to catch the thief before it steals your vision! Regular eye checkups, eating healthy food and early control of eye pressure is the key to fight this blinding disorder.

Inputs Dr Harshavardhan Ghorpade, Cataract, Cornea & Refractive Surgeon, Fortis Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi

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Kathy Laura

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