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World Glaucoma Week March 9-15, 2014

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The week, March 9th to March 15, has been designated World Glaucoma Week by the World Glaucoma Association and as such, I am pleased to put the topic glaucoma back on the table.{{more}}

This year’s theme is “Beat invisible glaucoma (BIG)”. Also listen out for radio interviews and presentations on programmes such as Health Word and Health Microscope, as we strive to increase public awareness on this topic.

Glaucoma is best defined as a group of eye diseases that gradually steal your sight without any warning. Usually in the early stages of the disease, there are no symptoms. It is estimated that at least half of the people afflicted by this disease may not even know it.

People with highest risk for glaucoma are: people of African origin, family members of a glaucoma patient, people over a certain age group, steroid users, people with injury to the eye and people with high eye pressure.

Other risk factors may include diabetes, hypertension, high myopia (nearsightedness), thin corneas, people of Asian or Hispanic descent.

They are different types of glaucoma, but the two main types of glaucoma are: primary open angle glaucoma (POAG), and angle closure glaucoma.

The main reason why people go blind with this disease is because of damage to the optic nerve.

Not only people with high eye pressure have glaucoma, people with normal or low eye pressure can also develop glaucoma.

There is no known cure for glaucoma. However, the use of medication and surgery can help to slow down or prevent further vision loss.

Detecting the disease early is crucial for stopping its progression.

It should be noted that there is no single test that is 100 per cent effective in determining whether one has glaucoma or not. The diagnosis of the disease depends on many factors, some of which include the measurement of your visual acuity (evaluation of your central vision), Perimetry (evaluation of your peripheral vision), Tonometry (measuring eye pressure), Ophthalmoscopy (evaluation of the optic nerve and retina), Gonioscopy (evaluation of the anterior chamber angle) and Pachymetry which measures the thickness of your cornea.

Recently, it has also been found that the thickness of the cornea plays a role in measuring the level of pressure in the eye. People with thick corneas may have falsely high eye pressure readings, and conversely, people with thin corneas may have falsely low pressure readings. A test called pachymetry measures the thickness of the cornea and allows ophthalmologists to determine whether people at risk for glaucoma should be treated or not.

Other examinations may also include: Visual field exams, Gonioscopy (Anterior Chamber angle assessment), examination of the optic nerve and the retina, visual field examinations and computer nerve imaging, among other tests.

As you can see, diagnosing glaucoma may involve several complex procedures. It is imperative to check with your ophthalmologist on a regular basis, as there are no symptoms in the early stages.

For more information on glaucoma check out http://beachmonteyes.com/eye4eye and www.gweek.net

Dr Kenneth Onu is a resident Consultant Ophthalmologist at the Beachmont Eye Institute/Eyes R Us Send questions to: Beachmont@gmail.com

Tel: 784 456-1210

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