Every Eighth Individual In India Susceptible To Glaucoma, 1.1 Million People Visually Impaired

World Glaucoma Week: Every year, World Glaucoma Week is observed from March 12 to 18, to raise awareness about glaucoma and encourage people to get their eyes tested. Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve, as a result of which the affected person’s vision is affected. High pressure in the eye can damage the optic nerve, which sends visual information from the eye to the brain. In some cases, even normal eye pressure can cause glaucoma. 

Every eighth individual in India is susceptible to glaucoma, according to Dr Reena Choudhry, COO and Medical Director, HoD, Glaucoma Department, iCARE Eye Hospital, Sector-26, Noida. 

Dr Choudhry said glaucoma causes silent vision loss, and some forms of the condition result in mild eye pain, headaches, and rainbow-coloured circles around lights.

“Recent statistics by the National Health Portal reveal that nearly 40 million individuals in India have glaucoma or are at risk of developing it,” Dr Choudhry said. In other words, every eighth Indian suffers from glaucoma.

Also, approximately 11.2 million people aged 40 years and older suffer from glaucoma, and 1.1 million individuals, including children, are visually impaired. Glaucoma is projected to affect an additional 27.8 million individuals in Asia by 2040.

“Among individuals aged 40 and above, approximately 11.2 million suffer from glaucoma, and 1.1 million are visually impaired, including children. In Asia, glaucoma is projected to affect an additional 27.8 million individuals by 2040, with India and China bearing the brunt of the burden.” Dr Choudhry added.

One can prevent the glaucoma from being exacerbated through early diagnosis.

“Early diagnosis of glaucoma can prevent its progression, and routine eye check-ups and mass screenings can facilitate its early detection and prevention. Late-stage diagnosis of the disease is treated with medication and surgery aimed at preventing further damage to vision and the visual field. Increasing awareness of glaucoma through various media platforms can aid in overall prevention efforts,” Dr Choudhry said.

Glaucoma can occur at any age, but it is more common in people aged above 40 years. People with myopia, those having a history of eye trauma, a family history of glaucoma, or individuals consuming corticosteroid medications for a long time are at greater risk of developing glaucoma compared to others. The advanced form of glaucoma usually affects people with lesser access to healthcare facilities.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends a comprehensive eye exam every five to ten years if one is under 40 years of age, every two to four years if one is aged 40 to 54 years, every one to three years if an individual is aged 55 to 64 years, and every one to two years if a person is older than 65 years, Dr Choudhry said.

It is important to follow this guideline to ensure early diagnosis and prevention of glaucoma.

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