World Glaucoma Day Special: Let’s break some myths about Glaucoma

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Glaucoma is a potentially blinding condition that affects the optic nerve of the eye. However, there are a lot of misconceptions about it. Let us debunk some of them on World Glaucoma Day, which is observed every year on March 12.

Myth 1: Glaucoma affects only elderly people

Fact: Although glaucoma is more common in the elderly, it can affect anyone at any age, including newborns. Even if you are young and have no visible eye issues, it is important to have routine eye checks to ensure that glaucoma is identified early. Glaucoma vision loss cannot be reversed, so early detection is vital.

Myth 2: I don’t have glaucoma if I have a clear vision

Fact: This is a major misunderstanding. Most cases of glaucoma have no symptoms, and vision can be as good as 6/6 before late stages, which is why it is known as the “silent thief of sight”. When a diagnosis of glaucoma is made, several people are surprised. The longer it takes to diagnose and cure the illness, the worse the long-term result will be.

Myth 3: I won’t get glaucoma because no one in my family has it

Fact: Although having a family history of glaucoma is a risk factor for developing the eye condition, many glaucoma patients do not have anybody that has had the disease in their family. Since all family members were never thoroughly tested for glaucoma, family history may not be present in some cases. This is why it is important for all patients diagnosed with glaucoma to have their family members examined as well.

Myth 4: Glaucoma only occurs when I have a high Intraocular Pressure (IOP)

Fact: Although high intraocular pressure (IOP) or fluid pressure in the eyes is a risk factor for most people with glaucoma, many patients with an extreme form of glaucoma called “Normal-Tension Glaucoma” will never have an elevated IOP. Some people with high IOP, on the other hand, do not have Glaucoma; this is known as Ocular Hypertension.

Myth 5: There is no cure for glaucoma so no point in taking treatment

Fact: While vision that has already been lost due to glaucoma cannot be restored, treatment may slow the progression of the disease and avoid further vision loss. Glaucoma is a chronic condition that needs continuous supervision and therapy to prevent blindness. It is important to seek treatment from a glaucoma specialist rather than a general eye doctor.

Myth 6: I don’t have any other choices if my glaucoma isn’t managed by medicines and eye drops.

Fact: When glaucoma is not managed by medication, surgical and laser therapies are available and should not be postponed. Laser therapy is highly recommended in some forms of glaucoma, such as ‘Angle Closure Glaucoma,’ which is very common in the Indian sub-continent. And if not done, the situation can lead to the disease worsening to the point of full vision loss. Patients with glaucoma should consult with a trained and experienced glaucoma surgeon to learn about all of their choices, including surgical and laser procedures that general eye doctors might be unaware of.

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