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March 12, 2010

An eye check is a good idea

How often do you go for an eye check? With most of us leading a lifestyle that strains our eyes on a daily basis (like long hours in front of computers), a routine eye check up every three months, doctors suggest, is a good idea to keep track of your eyesight.
eye checkup
This week, ending March 13, the world is observing Glaucoma Week, highlighting, among other things, the fact that regular eye examination, particularly by those above 40, helps early detection of the disease &, in turn, would help in preserving one's vision. Glaucoma is a hereditary disease but there are other factors that can make you a potential glaucoma patient.

“We do not know why some people get glaucoma & some don't. But we do know that glaucoma is a dangerous eye disease because often there are no symptoms until serious damage has occurred.” After cataract, glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide, & affecting approximately 12 million people in India," says Dr. Devindra Sood.

Dr. Sridhar Rao, president, Glaucoma Society of India, explains possible risk factors. “People with a family history of glaucoma are the most vulnerable. But there can be others who are at risk of having glaucoma, such as those with physical eye injuries, those who 've used steroids for a long period of time, say in treating kidney diseases, depression, etc., & those with diabetes, thyroid problem, hypertension, high blood pressure, myopia & high intraocular pressure. But having said this, I would like to include everyone over the age of 40 to be at risk of getting glaucoma.” Though there are rarely any symptoms in the early stages of the disease, regular eye checks are a key to track “the sneak thief of sight.”

Dr. Sood, who runs a one-of-a-kind imaging centre in New Delhi exclusively to treat different kinds of glaucoma, has a website (www.glaucomadelhi.org) with exhaustive information on the disease, how it is different from that of western countries & its treatment. Some of the symptoms he notes on it are:
  • Rapid change of glasses
  • Seeing rainbow coloured rings around bright light
  • Headaches
  • Pain in & around the eye ball
  • Nausea
Explaining what glaucoma is, Dr. Rao says, “It is a disease in which the optic nerve gets damaged, leading to progressive, irreversible loss of vision. Once lost, the damaged visual field can never be recovered.”

Though there is no cure for glaucoma, different levels of treatments, including drugs, laser therapy & surgery, are done on patients. “In some cases, surgery does help,” says Dr. Rao.

As a part of preventive measures, the Glaucoma Society of India regularly conducts screening of patients & their relatives. Dr. Rao says the society, formed about 15 years ago, has a membership of 400 ophthalmologists across the country. “Each member tries in his/her own way to spread awareness about the disease,” he says. Dr. Sood, a member of the Society, adds, “We conduct regular screening of people who can be vulnerable to glaucoma.”
Know more about the disease...

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