World glaucoma week being observed from March 8 -14, 2020 is a joint initiative between the World Glaucoma Association and the World Glaucoma Patient Association. The main aim of World Glaucoma Week is to stress the importance of early detection to slow the progression of glaucoma and regular eye tests to detect asymptomatic glaucoma at an early stage. This year theme is ‘B-I-G’, Beat Invisible Glaucoma. All it takes is a simple test to save vision, as glaucoma detected at a later stage is irreversible and may lead to vision loss. Also Read: Prevent Glaucoma With Regular Eye-Checkups
Reports reveal that any individual has about 2.3% risk of getting glaucoma in their life span and first-degree relatives of glaucoma patients have a tenfold higher risk of glaucoma. Hence it is pivotal to create awareness among people who are at risk and the need and importance of regular eye checkups. Doctors also suggest doing optic nerve examination which facilitates to save vision loss in a large section of the population.
Evidence revealed that glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness globally. In India, at least 12 million people are affected by this irreversible eye condition and about 1.2 million people lose vision due to glaucoma. Apparently more than 90% of cases of glaucoma is left undiagnosed and the need of the hour is to spread awareness about timely eye examination, save eyesight and promote healthy vision.
Glaucoma is an eye disorder that damages the optic nerve due to high buildup of fluid pressure in the eyes. The optic nerve functions to transmit nerve signals to the brain from the eyes and normal functioning of optic nerve maintain good vision. The eyes need a minimal amount of pressure to maintain the eyeball in good shape so that it can function well. Glaucoma in few people is caused due to increased eye pressure, but those with normal eye pressure, any weakness in the optic nerve can also lead to glaucoma.
Risk factors of glaucoma include high intraocular eye pressure, heredity, age, eye conditions like myopia, eye surgery, comorbid conditions like diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and sickle cell anaemia and long term usage of certain medications.
Early diagnosis and treatment is the best possible way to prevent vision loss from glaucoma. Glaucoma is generally diagnosed during a routine eye test before it leads to any visible symptoms. Regular eye checkups help to diagnose and address the conditions as early as possible, as early treatment can avert vision becoming badly affected. It is recommended that a person should have an eye examination done at least every 2 years and one’s who are at higher risk of glaucoma are advised to have more regular tests. Also Read: Childhood Glaucoma
Tests To Diagnose And Monitor Glaucoma
If a person is doubtful to have glaucoma after the routine eye evaluation, then they are advised by the doctors to undergo several tests, tests are performed by an optometrist which are very simple and painless.
Eye Pressure Test:
An eye pressure test also known as tonometry uses an instrument called a tonometer to evaluate the pressure inside the eye. It is usually performed by giving anaesthesia and injecting a dye into the front of the eye. Then a light is passed into the eye and touches the surface of it with a tonometer.
The optometrist will inject a small amount of painkiller medication (anaesthetic) and dye into the front part of your eye. They will then pass light into your eye and gently touch the surface of it with the tonometer.
This is an examination to look at the front part of the eye which is the fluid-filled space between the iris and cornea, where the fluid drains out of the eye. A gonioscopy can help the ophthalmologist to find out if it is open or closed-angle glaucoma and how well the fluid drains out of the eye.
Visual Field Test:
Visual field test or perimetry examines for missing areas of vision. In this test, a person is shown a sequence of light spots and asked to point out which ones they can observe. Some spots are observed in the edge of the vision (periphery vision) which is mostly the first area to be affected by glaucoma. If the individual is not able to observe the spots in the periphery, then it reveals that glaucoma has damaged their vision.
Optic Nerve Test:
The optic nerve connects the eye to your brain and is vital in protecting vision. This is damaged in glaucoma, so, it is essential to examine if the optic nerve is healthy. In this test, eye drops are used to dilate the pupils and the eyes are checked either using:
A Slit Lamp (Microscope), or
Optical Coherence Tomography, which is a type of scan where special rays of lights are used to scan the back of the eye and produce an image.
If glaucoma is confirmed after these tests then the ophthalmologist will determine the course of the treatment plan, mild cases are treated with eye drops and laser treatment and surgery are performed for severe cases. Always remember that all it takes is a simple eye test to beat invisible glaucoma.