Glaucoma is leading cause of blindness for Pinoys
Did you know that you can actually go blind without knowing? First, your field of vision shrinks and you may feel some pain in your eye or slight blurring of vision. This goes unnoticed until its late stages, where the damage is irreparable — eventually you go blind. For many Filipinos, glaucoma is a silent killer – and, like cancer, it has no cure.
Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in Filipinos so if you haven’t heard of it, now is the time to educate yourself.
The Philippine Glaucoma Society and Allergan celebrate World Glaucoma Week
The Philippine Glaucoma Society has partnered with Allergan to celebrate World Glaucoma Week, happening this year from March 12 to 16. Along with an awareness campaign, free glaucoma screening activities will be provided in selected hospitals and eye centers in the country.
“No Filipino shall ever go blind from glaucoma” – this is the battlecry of the Philippine Glaucoma Society. Internationally recognized as a leader in providing quality glaucoma care in he Philippines, the group is spearheaded by Dr. Mario V. Aquino, its founding president. Well respected in this field, Dr. Aquino is the head of the Glaucoma Section at St. Luke’s International Eye Institute.
Because glaucoma is irreversible, the best cure is prevention and early detection. The only way to do this is by having your eyes checked regularly.
What if you wear glasses?
There is no single test to diagnose glaucoma. A trained eye specialist will have to consolidate various tests and exams in order to come up with an assessment. So, although a visit to the optical shops in malls may provide you with the necessary tests, without proper interpretation it can still go undetected.
So on your next visit, specifically request to have your eyes checked for glaucoma.
Once diagnosed with glaucoma, regular and life-long follow-up is required. Since the damage is irrepairable, the best that one can hope to accomplish would be to preserve whatever vision is left.
Glaucoma can afflict a person regardless of age, health, or race. However, certain qualities may pose an individual at a higher risk or developing this disease:
- Having high eye pressure (as measured in a routine eye exam)
- Family history of glaucoma
- Age over 45
- Previous eye injury
- Chronic steroid use
- Diabetes mellitus
- Asian ancestry (probably most alarming to Filipinos)
Glaucoma is a lifelong and irreversible disease, but it can be prevented through early diagnosis and treatment. Have your eyes checked for glaucoma today!
World Glaucoma Week – Philippines photos
[slickr-flickr search=sets set=72157629546703417]
A cause of blindness one could have avoided
According to the World Health Organization, glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world. Glaucoma is not curable considering the damage to the optic nerve caused by glaucoma is already permanent.
Involving the optic nerve—the cable-like tissue that connects the eye to the brain—glaucoma damages the optic nerve causing it to affect one’s visual field to shrink, eventually causing blindness.
And yet glaucoma remained to be under-diagnosed due to the silent nature of the disease and low patient awareness.
There is no single diagnostic test to diagnose glaucoma. A trained eye specialist will consolidate clinical examination findings with functional vision tests to come up with an assessment of glaucoma risk. If a diagnosis is made, regular and life-long follow-up is required for adequate monitoring of the disease
Individuals with the following risk factors should watch out as they have a higher chance of developing glaucoma: having high eye pressure (as measured in a routine eye exam), family history of glaucoma, age over 45, previous eye injury, chronic steroid use, diabetes mellitus, and probably most alarming to Filipinos, Asian descent.
Experts believe that once the vision becomes blurry, and pain is already felt in the eye, it’s time to visit an ophthalmologist/eye doctor right away.
Another concern is the fact that older Filipinos do not consider glaucoma as a personal health issue, even though their age alone puts them at higher risk.
Moreover, many Filipinos do not visit their eye doctors often enough, and may not always get their eye pressure measured. This test employs a tonometer, which either rests against your eye’s (numbed) surface or sends a puff of air onto the cornea.
The Philippine Glaucoma Society believes that Filipinos must be educated about the potential outcomes of poor adherence and motivated to proactively address their individual challenges.
The public should remember that glaucoma rarely has warning signs—up to 40 percent of one’s vision can disappear without realizing it. This vision loss, while avoidable through early diagnosis, is irreversible once it presents itself.
At the moment there is no cure for glaucoma. However, blindness caused by glaucoma can also be prevented, provided it is detected at an early stage as there are treatments such as medicine or surgery that can slow the progression of vision loss.
The only way glaucoma can be detected is by regular comprehensive eye exams, which should begin after reaching the age of 40.
Considering there are several types of glaucoma, one should be warned of the different symptoms. The most common types of glaucoma, called the primary open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma may have completely different symptoms.
For primary open-angle glaucoma one should be alerted of the gradual loss of peripheral vision, usually in both eyes. Tunnel vision only occurs in the advanced stages.
For acute angle-closure glaucoma, one should watch out for the occurrence of severe eye pain; nausea and vomiting (accompanying the severe eye pain); sudden onset of blurred vision; halos around lights; as well as reddening of the eye.
To help address this critical situation, the Philippine Glaucoma Society in partnership with multi-specialty health care company, Allergan, has organized glaucoma awareness activities during World Glaucoma Week Glaucoma to be held on March 12 to 16, 2012. Numerous glaucoma forums for lay people as well as glaucoma screening activities will be held in selected hospitals and eye centers countrywide to examine the misperceptions and behaviors that often stand in the way of optimal diagnosis and care.
Philippine Glaucoma Society is the internationally recognized leader in providing quality glaucoma care in the Philippines through education, exchange of ideas, research and publication.
In partnership with the medical community, Allergan bring scientific excellence and rigor to deliver leading products that addresses glaucoma, and Allergan go above and beyond this to provide education and information, with the highest level of integrity, that helps patients to fully understand the choices available to them and make well-informed treatment decisions with their doctors.
Notwithstanding the increasing worldwide prevalence of glaucoma, both the Philippine Glaucoma Society and Allergan believe that blindness from the disease can still be prevented thru early diagnosis and treatment.