March 12th to 17th is World Glaucoma Week. Glaucoma is a serious disease affecting the eyes, more specifically the optic nerve, preventing transmission of information between the optic nerve and the brain.
Also called “the silent thief of sight“, it is mostly characterised by being asymptomatic in its first stages of occurrence and goes easily undetected. Once the silent sight killer progresses, it is often too late to overturn all the damages caused to the optic nerve and treatments are only aimed at preventing further deterioration of the eye. The final stage of the disease leads to complete blindness.
In view of the severity of glaucoma’s “undercover” symptoms and effects, the World Glaucoma Week aims at raising awareness on this quite widely spread disease on a global level by encouraging everyone to get their eyes regularly checked. According to the latest research in the field, glaucoma is the second cause of blindness worldwide. Also:
- Globally, 4.5 million persons are blind in consequence of contracting glaucoma
- Up to 50% of affected persons are not aware of having glaucoma due to difficulties in its detection
- Estimates put the total number of suspected cases of glaucoma at over 60 million worldwide
- It is expected that by 2020, the number of persons suffering from glaucoma worldwide will rise to 11.2 million
- Blindness from glaucoma is 6 to 8 times more common in African Americans than Caucasians
- High-risk groups include: people over 60, family members of those already diagnosed, diabetics, and people who are severely nearsighted
Taking into consideration that everyone, and I mean absolutely everyone is at risk for glaucoma, prevention is the most successful path to an action against this silent thief of sight and light as once contracted, if not treated in time, the damages caused are mostly irreversible. However, if diagnosed in time, there are efficient medical and surgical treatments to be undertaken to control and prevent further progression of glaucoma.
We at InTech have been working hard towards helping advance research in this specific field of medicine. By collaborating with renowned scientists, professionals and researchers in ophthalmology, we have published online their reviewed, Open Access, research papers to fuel the dissemination of knowledge on the matter and hopefully lead to the discovery of a light at the end of the tunnel.
Dr. Shimon Rumelt, senior ophthalmologist at the Western Galilee – Nahariya Medical Center, edited two of InTech’s publications on the subject of glaucoma. Here is what Dr. Rumelt had to say about glaucoma and preventive measures,
Glaucoma is the second cause of blindness in the world following cataract. However, cataract causes reversible blindness and can be cured by surgery, while glaucoma causes irreversible blindness. Thus it is the first cause of irreversible blindness. About 70 million people worldwide are affected today by the different types of glaucoma. Of them 9 million are blind in both eyes. The prevalence of glaucoma is between 0.5 and 2% depending on the population. Because of its wide distribution, it is highly recommended to increase the awareness of the world population to the disease and for the importance of periodical screening that includes examination of the optic disc (most important) and the intraocular pressure. My recommendation is examination every 6 months in individuals over 40 years. At a younger age, examination should be after birth, at kindergarten, elementary school and every 5 years thereafter.
The most common forms of glaucoma (open angle glaucomas) damage first the peripheral visual field, an area that is not noted by the affected person. Only when a person loses his central vision, he may notice it, but this is the last area to be affected and when this occurs in both eyes, the person remains blind for the rest of his life. That is the reason that periodical screening is mandatory.
To find out more about it or browse through Dr. Rumelt’s publications as well as other InTech’s publications addressing glaucoma, its contraction, symptoms, diagnosis, treatments and new research paths, please refer to the list below to read, share and download for free:
Glaucoma – Current Clinical and Research Aspects, edited by Pinakin Gunvant, InTech, Nov. 2011
Glaucoma – Basic and Clinical Concepts, edited by Shimon Rumelt, InTech, Nov. 2011
The Mystery of Glaucoma, edited by Tomaš Kubena. InTech, Sept. 2011
If you would like to take some direct action to help further research in this particular field, you can find further information on how to get involved here:
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