3 To 5% Of Indians At Risk Of Glaucoma, Say Experts

Glaucoma, a group of eye diseases that cause progressive damage of the optic nerve.

Coimbatore: World Glaucoma Week is celebrated from from March 12 to 18. According to experts, three to five per cent of Indians are at the risk of Glaucoma and 90 per cent of them are yet to be diagnosed.

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that causes progressive damage of the optic nerve at the point where it leaves the eye to carry visual information to the brain. If left untreated, most types of glaucoma progress towards gradually worsening visual damage and may lead to blindness.

Once incurred, visual damage is mostly irreversible, and this has led to glaucoma being described as the “silent blinding disease” or the “sneak thief of sight”, according to World Glaucoma Week website.

Approximately 11.2 million Indians–6.48 open angle and 2.54 angle closure– above the age of 40 years are likely to be inflicted with this disease amounting to 12.8 per cent of blindness in India, Dr Chitra Ramamurthy who is medical director of The Eye Foundation said.

Quoting various population based studies by experts in the field in Tamil Nadu, she said prevalence of this disease was two to 13 per cent. Glaucoma now stood as a third leading cause of preventable blindness, she said.

Governor of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh E S L Narasimhan, who participated in “Glaucoma Awareness Walk” on Monday emphasized that everyone in a family with history of glaucoma should undergo regular eye check-up.

He further said, “Sometimes, indiscriminate use of steroids can also lead to glaucoma. The problem with glaucoma is that many are not aware till it hits them hard. Therefore, creating awareness about glaucoma becomes a high priority.”

According to World Health Organisation, in Southern India, studies have shown a prevalence of glaucoma of 2.6 per cent and 90 per cent of these cases have never been diagnosed before.

There are several reasons why glaucoma has now become one of the leading causes of blindness. One is age. As a population grows older, the prevalence of glaucoma rises. Another reason is the reduced importance of trachoma as a cause of blindness, as per WHO.

(With Inputs From PTI)

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