Tollywood star actor Sumanth joins in the ‘Glaucoma Awareness Walk’ organised by L V Prasad Eye Institute!

Speaking on the occasion Sumanth said, this is a wonderful initiative by LV Prasad Eye Institute for a wonderful cause. On a personal note my late grandfather Akinneni Nageshwar Rao had suffered from Glaucoma, in fact I used to call him, my grandmother and the family as professional patients, for a laugh. Though my family was aware of many, many things, but even someone like my grandfather wasn’t aware of glaucoma till very late and he was diagnosed and treated here, in fact he lost half of his vision before he was diagnosed. I have a strong personal connect with this disease, my father was diagnosed with Glaucoma in the early stages and he has been taking medication and because of the genetic nature of this I am a primary candidate to get the disease. I am happy to be part of this awareness initiative.

Dr G Chandra Sekhar said, pressure in the eye nerve is the cause of this disease and can afflict a person of any age, including just born. The only way out is complete comprehensive eye check-up, to identify this disease. Awareness and early diagnosis is key to prevent irreversible blindness this disease can afflict.

Dr Siddharth Dikshit said, 90% of those with Glaucoma aren’t aware of they being victims of the disease. If they come early we can save the vision. Everyone above 40 have to regularly get a check-up done for glaucoma and it is mandatory for those with a family history. Using unmonitored steroids for eye can also lead to glaucoma, therefore steroids have to be used under the supervision of ophthalmologist.

Dr Sirisha Senthil, Head of Glaucoma Service at LVPEI said, most people with glaucoma have no early symptoms or pain from this increased pressure, hence it is important to see your eye doctor regularly so that glaucoma can be diagnosed and treated before long-term visual loss occurs. 4% of those above 45 years of age have glaucoma. Children can be born with glaucoma and need to be treated within 2-3 weeks, after which they can lead a normal life. There needs to be a strong regulation in dispensing of steroids, they are not bad as such, but have to be used strictly under the supervision of the doctor.

Glaucoma is a disorder associated with increase in the eye pressure and is characterized by damage to the optic nerve leading to irreversible blindness. Currently in India, every 8th individual or nearly 40 million either has glaucoma or is at risk of developing the disease. 11.2 million Indians suffer from the disease with 1.1 million being blind, including children. Glaucoma more commonly affects people beyond the age of 40 years. High myopes, diabetics and those with a positive family history have higher risk of developing glaucoma. Screening family members of patients with glaucoma is mandatory, as this disease can affect siblings and children of patients with glaucoma in up to 10‐20% of cases.

The focus this year is on ‘Childhood and Glaucoma.’ Childhood glaucoma affects more than 300,000 children across the world and 2/3 of these children are already blind with ¾ of them living in developing countries. The high prevalence rate of primary congenital glaucoma (PCG) in the developing world is due to higher parental consanguinity in some communities.  There is also a high incidence of secondary glaucomas associated with congenital cataract surgery, accidental trauma and use of steroid eye drops for eye allergy. Surgery is the mainstay of treatment for most childhood glaucomas, especially the congenital type of glaucoma, with early surgery leading to a better prognosis. However, in developing countries children tend to present late with advanced disease at presentation, resulting in delayed diagnosis and surgery hence high prevalence of blindness. The only way to decrease the burden of this serious problem is to create public awareness about the causes, the way these conditions present and the treatment options and our awareness campaign this year focuses on glaucoma in children.

Glaucoma can be treated. If it is detected early, the eye specialist can help preserve the remaining vision and prevent the patient from going blind. But even though 80% of blindness from glaucoma is preventable, almost 7 million people worldwide turn blind due to glaucoma, with 2/3rd of them being women. This is because a whopping 90% of glaucoma cases go undetected, presumably due to a lack of awareness. Also, first Degree Relatives (FDRs) of Glaucoma patients have a ten-fold increase in life-long glaucoma risk. It is important that the entire family of a glaucoma patient undergo a detailed eye examination by an specialist to rule out glaucoma.

L V Prasad Eye Institute is organizing a Glaucoma Education Forum on March 14th to educate the general public on the need for periodic eye check-up and the harmful effects of prolonged steroid use.

Glaucoma cannot be prevented, but if it is diagnosed and treated early, the disease can be controlled. Loss of vision caused by glaucoma is irreversible and cannot be restored. However, successfully lowering eye pressure can help prevent further visual loss from glaucoma. Most people with glaucoma do not go blind if they follow their treatment plan and have regular eye exams.