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This is how you beat invisible glaucoma

Glaucoma in our counGlaucoma in our coun try is the leading  cause of Blindness as in the world. Since it usually steps in quietly and strikes irreversibly, diagnosing it early is of paramount importance. .The World Glaucoma week is being celebrated from  March 10 to 16 this year to raise awareness about this disease. A little diligence, a will to help oneself by undergoing comprehensive eye check up every two years by those above 40 years, and yearly by those above 50 years will go a long way in eliminating the deadly disease.Glaucoma is a term used to describe a group of diseases which strikes the delicate fibres of the nerve of the eye fatally. It prefers women. The general population has a risk of 2.3% of developing it, which increases ten fold for the close relatives of glaucoma patients. Those with diabetes, high blood pressure, short sightedness and long term steroid users are more at risk. One needs to think many times before buying and using those over the counter attractive eye drops. Saving a dime and loosing precious sight is pure folly.There are different types of the disease and hence symptoms may vary from none at all to decrease in eyesight, headaches, eye aches, haloes around light, frequent changes of glasses, severe eye pain, giddiness, vomiting and red eyes. It progresses to tunnel vision in the later stages. The permanence of the damage to the eye nerve which cannot be cured by modern medicine is the greatest cause of concern and hence the need to get the eye nerve tested as part of comprehensive eye examination by an Eye Doctor. Opticians and Optometrists cannot do this.Comprehensive eye checkThere are some specific tests which need to be done and not a routine eye exam only.Tonometry: It is a test in which intraocular tension is measured. There are different types of instruments which are used to measure this.Dilated fundus examination: In this the pupil is dilated and the retina as well as the optic disc is examined meticulously for effects of glaucoma as well as other associated diseases.Perimetry: The visual fields are mapped presenting light stimuli of varying intensity to find out the extent of nerve fibre damage. The report helps in comparison to assess progression.Gonioscopy: This facilitates identification of abnormal structures and estimation of angle width, i.e whether it is closed or open.Pachymetry: It measures the thickness of the cornea and higher readings have to be noted carefully by the eye doctor.Once diagnosed, treatment and follow up should be done meticulously. Different eye drops are available which if used as advised religiously; goes a long way in alleviating the disease and slowing progression considerably.  The key here is patience and persistence for it’s a lifelong association.Besides that, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, walking 40 minutes a day at least four times a week, leading a stress free life, controlling other associated diseases like Diabetes and obesity promises to help too.Sight is precious. A little care will help maintain it..(Dr. Sapna Deb Sarkar is an eye specialist at Shillong Civil Hospital)

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