World Glaucoma Awareness Week: Get Your Eyes Tested and Save Your Sight

World Glaucoma Awareness Week: Get Your Eyes Tested and Save Your Sight

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Highlights:
  • World Glaucoma Awareness Week is being celebrated from March 10th -16th, 2019
  • Its main objective is to create more awareness among people about the dangers of glaucoma
  • This will enable early diagnosis, timely treatment and adequate prevention of glaucoma

World Glaucoma Awareness Week is being celebrated from March 10th -16th, 2019. It is a joint initiative between the World Glaucoma Association (WGA) and the World Glaucoma Patient Association (WGPA). This has been going on successfully for the past decade and is aimed at creating awareness about this serious eye condition. It encourages people around the globe to have regular eye and optic nerve check-ups for early detection of glaucoma, thereby enabling sight preservation.
World Glaucoma Awareness Week: Get Your Eyes Tested and Save Your Sight

Objectives of World Glaucoma Awareness Week

The World Glaucoma Awareness Week brings together ophthalmologists, optometrists, eye care workers, glaucoma patients and their families, glaucoma advocacy groups, as well as the general public to create awareness about glaucoma through various activities and events across the globe. Over the past 10 years, a total of 7,142 activities have been organized on World Glaucoma Awareness Week.

A major objective of the various international organizations and glaucoma experts participating in the World Glaucoma Awareness Week is to focus on early detection, timely treatment and prevention strategies. In this regard, this year's theme is very apt: "GREEN = Go Get Your Eyes Tested for Glaucoma - Save Your Sight!"

Glaucoma and its Complications

Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve of the eye, which relays the visual images captured by the eye to the brain for interpretation. The major risk factor is increased intraocular pressure (IOP), which can damage the optic nerve if it is elevated too much.

Glaucoma usually occurs in susceptible individuals without any other eye problems (primary glaucoma). It can also occur due to eye trauma, systemic diseases, medications, and eye surgery complications (secondary glaucoma).

Glaucoma is considered to be a 'Neglected Eye Disease' in the sense that it is often neglected or overlooked by eye care planners. It is the most common cause of irreversible blindness worldwide and the number of afflicted people is increasing dramatically. Prevention and early treatment are key aspects for combating glaucoma. If left untreated, it can lead to visual field defects, visual impairment, and eventually blindness.

Glaucoma: Facts & Figures

  • Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the world
  • Glaucoma accounts for 12 percent of all blindness worldwide
  • Approximately 79.6 million people worldwide will have glaucoma by 2020, which will increase to 111.8 million by 2040
  • Over 11 million people worldwide will become bilaterally blind (blind in both eyes) due to glaucoma by 2020
  • In India, nearly 12 million people suffer from glaucoma and 1.2 million have been left blind from the disease
  • At least 50 percent of people are unaware that they have glaucoma
  • In some developing countries, as high as 90 percent of glaucoma cases go undetected
  • Glaucoma usually does not exhibit any symptoms in the early stages
  • Prevalence of glaucoma increases with age, so all individuals over 40 years should get an eye examination
  • Siblings of an individual with glaucoma are at a higher risk
  • African ancestry may increase the risk for open-angle glaucoma, while for Chinese ancestry, the risk is higher for angle closure glaucoma

How Can More Awareness about Glaucoma be Created?

Many people are unaware of the existence of glaucoma. Better awareness could prevent blindness arising from glaucoma. The World Glaucoma Awareness Week provides an ideal opportunity to increase awareness about the disease. Various activities and events can be organized, which could involve people from all walks of life. Some of the ways to increase awareness about glaucoma are highlighted below:
  • Education: Educating people, especially students, about the importance of regular eye check-ups can help prevent blindness arising from glaucoma
  • Advocacy: More advocacy efforts will help to shape public opinion and influence policymakers to take concrete steps in developing health policies that have a direct bearing on the various aspects pertaining to glaucoma
  • Glaucoma 'Walks': Walks can be organized for increasing awareness about glaucoma among the general public
  • Glaucoma Screening: Screening camps can be conducted for identifying glaucoma patients at an early stage of the disease
  • Painting Competitions: Painting competitions focusing on the theme of the World Glaucoma Awareness Week can be organized to spread the message among youngsters
  • Glaucoma Awareness for Medical Professionals: Medical college and hospital-centric activities such as CME (Continuing Medical Education) programs on glaucoma can be conducted to increase awareness among medical students and doctors
  • Glaucoma Forum: Awareness can be generated through conferences, symposia, public lectures, webinars, as well as stimulating debates and discussions
  • Media Coverage: Greater media coverage of the event by radio, TV, electronic or print media would showcase the importance of glaucoma among the masses
  • Publications: Informative popular articles on glaucoma, published in newspapers or blogs, would help to generate awareness and interest about glaucoma among the general public

Conclusion

Over the years, the World Glaucoma Awareness Week has provided an ideal platform for generating awareness about glaucoma. The World Glaucoma Association is optimistic that glaucoma could be eradicated through education, research and advocacy. Moreover, early case detection, prompt treatment and adequate preventive measures, will go a long way in eradicating this dreadful disease, so that millions of people can be saved from going blind and be able to 'see' a bright future.

References :
  1. World Glaucoma Week - (https://www.worldglaucomaweek.org/)
  2. Glaucoma Information - (https://www.glaucomapatients.org/)
  3. Priority Eye Diseases: Glaucoma - World Health Organization (WHO) - (https://www.who.int/blindness/causes/priority/en/index6.html)
  4. Focus on Glaucoma: World Glaucoma Week 2019 - The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) - (https://www.iapb.org/advocacy/world-glaucoma-week-2019/)


Source: Medindia

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