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Glaucoma: Safeguarding Your Vision

March 12, 2024

Glaucoma: Safeguarding Your Vision - featured image

Glaucoma, often referred to as the silent thief of sight, is a group of eye conditions that can lead to irreversible vision loss and blindness. Understanding this condition is crucial, as early detection and treatment can significantly impact the preservation of vision.

As a leading cause of irreversible blindness, glaucoma quietly infiltrates the lives of many, often without noticeable symptoms until substantial damage has occurred. Efforts to raise awareness and promote early detection and treatment options are especially emphasized during World Glaucoma Week (10-16 March) and World Glaucoma Day (12 March).

Glaucoma damages the optic nerve, the essential link between the eyes and the brain, with elevated intraocular pressure often characterizing it. The gradual onset and the fact that symptoms usually emerge only in advanced stages make glaucoma particularly dangerous.

In South Africa, where the aging population is on the rise, the growing concern of glaucoma’s prevalence is compounded by the lack of routine eye screenings and low awareness levels, allowing the disease to remain undetected until it reaches advanced stages.

There are various types of glaucoma, each with distinct characteristics, including open-angle glaucoma, angle-closure glaucoma, normal-tension glaucoma, and secondary glaucoma. Factors that increase the risk of glaucoma include age, family history, certain medical conditions (like diabetes), and prolonged use of corticosteroid medications.

Routine eye examinations are crucial for early glaucoma detection, enabling eye care professionals to measure intraocular pressure, assess the optic nerve, and monitor changes in the visual field.

While there is no cure for glaucoma, effective treatments can help manage the condition and slow its progression. These treatments may include prescription eye drops, oral medications, laser therapy, and, in some cases, surgical intervention.

Early diagnosis and appropriate management can prevent further vision loss, with the primary goal of treatment being to control intraocular pressure and preserve the optic nerve’s function.

Becoming aware of the facts about glaucoma is the first step in preserving vision and preventing unnecessary vision loss. Regular eye check-ups, especially for those at higher risk, play a pivotal role in maintaining eye health and overall wellbeing.

Dr Sibusiswe Tlhapane

Dr Sibusiswe Tlhapane

Busamed Harrismith Private Hospital

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