WORLD GLAUCOMA WEEK: 10-16 March 2013

Theme: The world is a wonder to see every day so don’t let glaucoma get in the way

What is Glaucoma?

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

If left untreated, most types of glaucoma progress (without warning or obvious symptoms to the patient) 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”.

Glaucoma is the second most common cause of blindness worldwide. It is estimated that 4.5 million persons globally are blind due to glaucoma.

There are several types of glaucoma. Some may occur as a complication of other visual disorders (the so-called “secondary” glaucomas) but the vast majority is “primary”, i.e. they occur without a known cause. It was once believed that the cause of most or all glaucomas was high pressure within the eye (known as intraocular pressure – sometimes abbreviated as IOP). It is now established however, that even people without an abnormally high IOP may suffer from glaucoma. Intraocular pressure is considered therefore today as a “Risk Factor” for glaucoma, together with other factors such as racial ancestry, family history, high myopia and age.

Some forms of glaucoma may occur at birth (“congenital”) or during infancy and childhood (“juvenile”); in most cases however, glaucoma appears after the 4th decade of life, and its frequency increases with age.

There is no cure for glaucoma as yet, and vision loss is irreversible. However medication or surgery (traditional or laser) can halt or slow-down any further vision loss. Therefore early detection is essential to limiting visual impairment and preventing the progression towards severe visual handicap or blindness. Your Classic Eyes eye-care professional can detect glaucoma in its early stages and advise you on the best course of action.

For more information visit: www.glaucoma.org

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