Glaucoma, which affects the optic nerve of the eye, it is a potentially blinding disease. But there are many misconceptions surrounding it. On World Glaucoma Day, which is celebrated annually on March 12, let’s demystify some of them, courtesy of Practo ophthalmologist Dr. Smriti Jain.
Myth # 1: Glaucoma affects only older people
Done: Although the incidence of glaucoma is higher among the elderly, glaucoma can affect anyone at any age, even newborns. It is important to have regular eye exams even when you are young and have no apparent eye problems to make sure glaucoma is caught early. Sight loss due to glaucoma it cannot be reversed, so early detection is crucial.
Myth # 2: If I have good vision, I don’t have glaucoma.
Done: This is a big mistake. Most types of glaucoma will not have any symptoms and vision can also be 6/6 until the later stages, which is why glaucoma is called the “silent thief of sight.” People are often surprised when the diagnosis of glaucoma is made. The later the disease is diagnosed and treated, the worse the long-term outcome will be.
Myth # 3: No one in my family has glaucoma, so I will not get the disease.
Done: Although a family history of glaucoma is a risk factor for developing this eye disease, there are many glaucoma patients who have no one in their family who has glaucoma. Sometimes family history may not be there because all family members were never properly screened for glaucoma, so it is important that all patients diagnosed with glaucoma have their family members screened.
Myth # 4: Glaucoma only exists if I have high intraocular pressure (IOP).
Done: While most people with glaucoma will have high intraocular pressure (IOP) or fluid pressure in the eyes, and it is definitely a risk factor, many patients may never have an increased IOP and yet have a severe type of glaucoma called ‘Normal Tension Glaucoma’. . On the other hand, some people with high IOP may not have glaucoma; This is called ocular hypertension.
Myth # 5: There is no cure for glaucoma, so there is no point in taking treatment
Done: Vision already lost due to glaucoma cannot be recovered, but treatment can stop the progression of glaucoma and prevent further loss of vision. Glaucoma is a progressive disease that requires constant monitoring and therapy; otherwise, it may lead to blindness. It is extremely important to receive proper treatment from a glaucoma specialist and not just a general ophthalmologist.
Myth # 6: If my glaucoma is not controlled with medications and eye drops, I have no other options.
Done: There are surgical and laser treatments to treat glaucoma when the disease is not controlled with medication and should not be delayed. In certain types of glaucoma, for example ‘angle-closure glaucoma’ which is very common in India, laser treatment is strongly recommended and if not performed the disease can progress to a point of total loss of the vision. Patients with glaucoma You should consult a qualified and experienced glaucoma surgeon and gain a full understanding of all the options available to them, including surgical and laser treatments that general ophthalmologists may not be aware of.