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World Glaucoma Week at The Eye Foundation

World Glaucoma Week at The Eye Foundation

world glaucoma week

World Glaucoma Week is a global initiative of the World Glaucoma Association (WGA) in order to raise awareness on glaucoma. Through a series of engaging worldwide activities, patients, eye-care providers, health officials and the general public are invited to contribute to sight preservation. The goal is to alert everyone to have regular eye (and optic nerve) checks in order to detect glaucoma as early as possible.

A peep into the glaucoma incidence in our country reveals that 3% to 5% of Indians may be at risk of glaucoma. The alarming equation is that over 90% of them are yet to be diagnosed. Glaucoma silently steals vision with irreversible loss, if undetected and untreated. This raises the alarm signals to evolve strategic protocols, adopt screening programs to detect the disease at its early onset. It demands an increased awareness to be created to educate the public encouraging them to undergo routine and complete eye evaluation with stress on glaucoma detection. The good news is that we have effective tools to diagnose and treat glaucoma preventing further vision loss if detected in time.

Worldwide 64.3 million people are affected by this disease and 2.1 million are believed to be blinded by the disease and another 4.2 million visually impaired. Approximately, 11.9 million Indians (36.4% open angle and 34% angle closure), above the age of 40 years are likely to be inflicted with this disease amounting to 12.8% of blindness in our country. The prevalence of this disease is about 2 to 13% according to various population based studies like Vellore Eye Study, Chennai Glaucoma study, Aravind comprehensive eye survey, Andhra Pradesh Eye Diseases study etc. 10.3% of the population is at risk of angle closure glaucoma as per the findings of the Vellore Eye study. It is estimated that another 4.7 million Indians have ocular hypertension viz. high pressure in the eye without nerve damage (but are at high risk for future optic nerve damage).The prevalence of glaucoma increases exponentially with age. Glaucoma now stands as a third leading cause of preventable blindness and early detection plays a key role.

Glaucoma, most simplistically understood, leads to gradual, painless loss of vision with raised eye pressure being the triggering factor. This symptomless trend of the disease, if undetected, could lead to progression of this condition. Individuals at risk of Glaucoma are those over 40, patients with diabetes, high myopia, injury, inflammations, a positive family history, steroid intake (topical/systemic) and congenital eye disorders. Some studies estimate that only 50% of patients with glaucoma have had an eye exam in the past. This makes routine screening for glaucoma in high risk groups a must and Glaucoma is aptly called a silent thief of sight” says Dr. R. Chitra, Medical Director & Consultant – Glaucoma ,Cataract & Refractive Surgery Service & Dr. Muralidhar R Consultant–Glaucoma & Pediatric ophthalmology Services, Dr. Padmini and Dr. Aiman Khan, Consultant Glaucoma. It is important to mention here that while India has access to the latest diagnostic and therapeutic modalities, the resources are not evenly distributed in the country and many do not have access to affordable medical care. Further considering that glaucoma patients need lifelong care, adherence and persistence to therapy continues to remain a challenge. World Glaucoma Day was conceptualized to bring about a widespread dissemination of information, educate people about this condition, screen many more of them and prevent a manageable catastrophe.

When quizzed about the World Glaucoma week, Dr. Ramamurthy, Chairman of The Eye Foundation stated “We, at The Eye Foundation on this momentous week, 10th to 16th March 2024 have reached out to the glaucoma population at our hospital base and beyond to create an increased awareness programme, more intensive than what is already ongoing and contribute to early detection and management of this blinding eye disease.

Glaucoma with its investigative and diagnostic approach has a strategic niche at our hospital. All patients above 40 years of age, as a routine, are screened for Glaucoma, irrespective of their complaint. If diagnosed, vision screening, intraocular pressure evaluation, gonioscopy to evaluate the drainage areas specific to glaucoma become necessary. Automated perimetry to analyze the visual field defects and imaging modalities like OCT to further enhance assessment of the retinal nerves fiber status, stereoscopic picture of the optic nerve all are intricately enmeshed to arrive at a complete, wholesome diagnosis of glaucoma. This is followed by staging of the disease, establishing a target intraocular pressure and individualizing treatment strategies with topical anti-glaucoma drops or a surgical intervention, as the situation demands. Patients under treatment are given the next appointment. SMS reminders and phone calls are made to ensure a zero drop out.

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To commemorate the “World Glaucoma Week”, Free Eye Examination and Consultation for Glaucoma for all during the entire week at all our centres is being offered from Monday 11th March to Saturday 16th March. Patients requiring further investigation, treatment and surgery are being offered the same at a subsidized rate during this period.

The disease, by its natural course, is slow and progressive and demands frequent follow ups and a lifelong commitment. We have a continued educative approach in the form of pamphlets, sms and reminder phone calls for follow ups with which we guide our patients to a longer lasting vision and improve the quality of life”.

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