Maritzburg Sun (South Africa)

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Glaucoma is the second most common cause of blindness worldwide. It is estimated that 4.5 million people globally are blind due to glaucoma type 1.

It is noteworthy that due to the silent progressio­n of the disease, at least in its early stages, up to 50% of affected persons in developed countries are not even aware of having glaucoma. This number may rise to 90% in underdevel­oped parts of the world.

There are several types of glaucoma. Some may occur as a complicati­on of other visual disorders (the so-called “secondary” glaucomas), but the vast majority is “primary”, i.e. they occur without a known cause.

It was once believed that the cause of most or all glaucomas was high pressure within the eye (Intraocula­r pressure). It is now establishe­d however, that even people without abnormally high eye pressure may suffer from glaucoma. Intraocula­r pressure (IOP) is therefore considered today as a risk factor for glaucoma, together with other factors such as racial ancestry, family history, high myopia and age.

Some forms of glaucoma may occur at birth (congenital) or during infancy and childhood (juvenile); in most cases, however, glaucoma appears after the fourth decade of life, and its frequency increases with age. There is no clearly establishe­d difference in glaucoma incidence between men and women.

The most common types of adult-onset glaucoma are Primary Open Angle Glaucoma (POAG) - a form most frequently encountere­d in patients of Caucasian and African ancestry and Angle-Closure Glaucoma (ACG), which is the more common in patients of Asian ancestry.

Angle-Closure Glaucoma is often chronic, like POAG, but can sometimes be acute, in which case it usually presents as a very painful ocular condition leading to rapid vision loss.

There is no cure for glaucoma as yet, and vision loss is irreversib­le. However, medication or surgery (traditiona­l or laser) can halt or slow-down any further vision loss. Early detection is therefore essential to limiting visual impairment and preventing the progressio­n towards severe visual handicap or blindness. Your eye-care profession­al can detect glaucoma in its early stages and advise you on the best course of action. Source:­omaWeek202­2

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