Glaucoma among youth on rise

Cases of Glaucoma have been on the rise among the young, with at least 10 to 20 per cent of those in the age group of 20-40 suffering from the disease, according to Shekar Nethralaya Glaucoma Specialist Dr Shailesh G M.

Doctors attribute the increasing dectection of the disease in youngsters to the awareness drive being conducted as part of the World Glaucoma Week observed worldwide from March 10 to 16.

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve that lead to blindness if not diagnosed and controlled in time.

Cause of  blindness

“It is the third highest cause of blindness in India and the world over,” said Dr Meena Menon of Sankara Eye Hospital. Generally known to be more prevalent among people above age of 40, recent cases are showing a dip in this age group.

“There are younger patients who come in for a check up and diagnosed with glaucoma,” she said. While awareness seems to have increased in certain age groups, overall knowledge about the disease is less.

“At present, about 2-5 per cent of Bangalore’s population will have glaucoma but less than 1 per cent will know about it,” says Devi Eye Hospital Chairman Dr Balakrishna Shetty. Studies by World Health Organisation (WHO) also show that developing countries have higher incidence rate for the disease.

“About 90 per cent and more in a developing country do not know about glaucoma,” adds Dr Shailesh.

Most doctors say that since the disease has no symptoms, patients never get it checked.
“Glaucoma is called the silent thief of the night as it can suddenly affect the patient’s vision without any warning. There are no clear symptoms. While some complain of decreased vision, they do not take it seriously and delay getting it checked,” says Dr Shivram Ramalingam of Pradnya Nethralaya.

No cure

Also with no known cure for the disease, delay in diagnosis can be fatal.

“Glaucoma cannot be cured, it can only be controlled. Early diagnosis will mean use of eye drops is enough. After that bringing it under control is either by laser treatment or surgery,” explains Dr Shetty.

Doctors add that people in above 40 years of age should get their eyes checked for glaucoma once a year.

“The incidence of diseaseis higher in that age group. Also patients who have family member suffering from the disease and diabetic patients are more susceptible. Also those who have suffered an eye injury should get themselves regularly checked,” said Dr Menon.

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