Glaucoma is known as a silent thief of vision. It is one of the leading causes of irreversible blindness worldwide. In India alone, it affects around 12 million people. Glaucoma is a treatable disease that needs early detection as the damage is not reversible. The treatment can include medicines, laser or surgery. The Himalayan Eye Institute offers comprehensive Glaucoma diagnosis & treatment by trained Glaucoma specialists. Perimetry provides highly accurate functional assessment of the optic nerve, while OCT RNFL scan by 3D OCT-1 Maestro (Topcon, Japan) provides detailed structural assessment of the nerve.
Glaucoma, also known as "Kala Motia" is an eye disease in which there is an increase in pressure inside the eye. Just as some people have high blood pressure, in the same way a glaucoma patient has high eye pressure.
If the eye pressure remains high for a long time it damages the optic nerve which carries the light sense from the eye to the brain. This damage to the nerve is irreversible and leads to permanent and incurable blindness. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world with 70 to 105 million people affected worldwide (WHO).
Glaucoma is often referred to as "silent thief of vision" as it can strike without any symptoms. However, some glaucoma patients may suffer symptoms like:
Everyone is at risk of getting affected by Glaucoma. But certain risk factors for the disease are:
Periodic eye check-up is the best way to detect Glaucoma early. Glaucoma can be detected using following basic tests:
Glaucoma can be of two types. In open angle glaucoma, the drainage pathway is wide open, still there is increased eye pressure due to increased formation of aqueous humour (fluid of eye). In closed angle glaucoma, eye pressure is raised due to blockage in the drainage pathway of the fluid due to narrow or closed angle of the eye. Apart from this, some people also have secondary glaucoma, i.e developing glaucoma as a result of some other disease in the eye eg diabetic retinopathy, venous occlusion in the retina, after trauma etc.
Glaucoma cannot be cured, but it can be controlled. As damage to nerve caused by glaucoma cannot be reversed, the aim of the treatment is to prevent or reduce further damage to the optic nerve. The first step to do that is to lower the eye pressure. The three modalities of treatment are:-
A laser peripheral iridotomy (PI) is required for patients with angle closure glaucoma to open up the drainage area for the fluid of the eye (aqueous humour). It is a simple outpatient procedure which can protect the eye from developing attacks of angle closure attack in the future.
Surgery (Glaucoma Filtering Microsurgery or "By-pass" surgery of eye - Trabeculectomy)
Operation for glaucoma is suggested for patients in whom the eye pressure is not controlled with medication or laser. It is also the treatment of choice in non-compliant patients, and in infants and children with glaucoma. Filtering microsurgery involves creating a drainage pathway with the use of a small surgical tool, to bypass the blockage in the eye’s trabecular meshwork (the eye’s drainage system). This opening helps increase the flow of fluid out of the eye and thereby reduce the eye pressure.
Glaucoma surgery is a major surgery, and it requires regular checkup even after surgery. The surgery is performed under local anesthesia (injection), hence the patient does not feel any pain during the surgery. It is important to remember that life long checkup is mandatory even after surgery, and sometimes a patient may require medicines to control eye pressure after surgery.
Things to remember about Glaucoma:
Glaucoma-related risk of lifetime vision loss can not be ignored. Glaucoma patients with progressive or advanced disease, and those with poor IOP control require a close follow-up to manage the disease adequately. Unfortunately, such evaluation can not be done through "virtual clinics" or on phone. It requires patient consultation and a close physical contact examination. Ophthalmologists at The Himalayan Eye Institute take extreme safety measures when performing glaucoma evaluation and treatment procedures. Our doctors advise glaucoma patients to stock up on critical medications, so that they will have enough to get by if anyone is quarantined or if supplies become limited.
We have tried for the first time an unique method to create awareness on Glaucoma by bringing together patient peer group, healthcare providers, opinion leaders and news reporters on a single platform and using music as a tool for emotional wellness, besides interactive QA session. Hope this engagement and collaboration would translate into a stronger resolve to fight Glaucoma!