New Delhi: Regular eye checkups after 40 years are the only defence against glaucoma, the second most common cause of blindness, say experts.
Glaucoma is responsible for up to 12 percent of all blindness in India.
According to World Glaucoma Association (WGA), globally 4.5 million people suffer from blindness due to glaucoma. The number is expected to reach 11.2 million by 2020.
March 12 is celebrated as World Glaucoma day. This year, WGA and World Glaucoma Patients Association (WGPA) decided to convert it into a week to create widespread awareness.
"Glaucoma, or Kala Motiya, is basically a condition where the optic nerve is damaged, often due to excess eye pressure," Ajay Sharma, chief medical director at Eye-Q Superspeciality hospitals said.
"The disease is a silent killer as there are no defining symptoms. Often the disease starts diminishing the peripheral vision which often goes neglected. By the time the patient realises, the vision is substantially damaged," he added.
"The eye is filled with a fluid called `aquaeous fluid` which helps the eye retain its shpe. But when the excess fluid fills the eyeball or when the drainage mechanism of the eye is obstructed, it starts pressing the optic nerve," he said.
Eye expert Tanuja Joshi of Venu Eye Institute and Research Center said vision damage due to glaucoma was irreversible. The only preventive measure was regular eye checkups, especially after the age of 40.
"Especially people with a history of diabetes or glaucoma in the family should religiously go for regular and complete eye checkups," she added.
The World Glaucoma Week began on March 12 and will last till March 17.
Glaucoma specialist J.C. Das said that while medical science had become advanced, the best thing to do was catching the disease early on. For this creation of widespread awareness is must.