World Glaucoma Week: Don't Let Glaucoma Darken Your Life

I'll be honest.  I am the type of person who has the enthusiasm to learn what technical terms mean.  I have a medical student for a sister.  But, whenever she explains things to me, I would tell her... "Can you explain those in layman's term?"  

Dr. Veloso patiently explains Glaucoma to us
Dr. Covar explains further
Thus, for many years, I have ignored medical campaigns which are already out there to warn us.  However, the other day, I was moved by the World Glaucoma Week presentation initiated by the Philippine Glaucoma Society along with Allergan. Allergan seeks not only to educate and inform the patients but also to help them to understand their options and decide their own treatment alongside their doctors.  On the other hand, the Philippine Glaucoma Society  aims to increase awareness of the disease in the community, healthcare system, policy-making bodies and among the patients.  It is their goal that "No Filipino Shall Go Blind from Glaucoma".  This is inline with the worldwide goal for glaucoma "Don't Let Glaucoma Darken Your Life."

What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a type of blindness by permanent paralysis.  It is the Philippine's leading causes of bilateral irreversible blindness.  The scary fact about Glaucoma is that it has NO cure and shows no signs in the early stage nor painful symptoms.  It just slowly and gradually impairs your vision. 

Glaucoma Statistics
  • Glaucoma is the 2nd leading cause of irreversible blindness in the world
  • A study in the United States estimates that 70 million people worldwide have glaucoma 
  • In the Philippines, glaucoma is the 3rd leading cause of blindness in both eyes and is the leading cause of irreversible blindness of both eyes.
Why is Glaucoma Serious?
Glaucoma causes irreversible damage to your optic nerves that connect to your brain and causes your vision to shrink.

What can early detection do?
Early detection and treatment is essential in controlling it and preventing it to from damaging the optic nerve further which leads to total blindness.  Once the damage is done, your sight can no longer be restored.  Persons diagnosed with  Glaucoma are required to follow up with their physicians for the rest of our lives.  It involves regular examinations and treatments (i.e. eye drops, laser surgery and conventional surgery).

When am I at risk of Glaucoma?
Glaucoma can afflict any person or age, health, gender or race.  But, according to studies it has often inflicted on those of:
  • Age: over 45
  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Myopia or hyperopia
  • Asian descent 
  • History of eye trauma or surgery
  • High Eye Pressure
  • Chronic Steroid use
  • Diabetes Mellitus

What are the symptons of Glaucoma?
There is generally no symptoms of Glaucoma especially for Open angle & some closed angle types.  However, a few Acute Angle Closure type patients have shown these symptoms:
  •  Blurry vision
  •  Eye pain
  •  Redness
  •  Headache
  •  Nausea and vomiting
  •  Rainbow colored halos around lights
What do you need to do?
  • Regular eye exams (500-1,000 php) with an ophthalmologist/eye doctor who will check your eye pressure and may recommend you to do a Glaucoma Screening (6,000 - 10,000 php) if needed
  • If vision is blurry, or if with eye pain, see an ophthalmologist/eye doctor right awa
So, join and support the World Glaucoma Week Don't Let Glaucoma Darken Your Life.

For Filipinos, the Philippine Glaucoma Society and Allergan has initiated a FREE glaucoma screening this March 12-16, 2012 so contact your local eye doctors now for more information!