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. This year’s theme is : “GREEN = Go Get Your Eyes Tested for Glaucoma – Save Your Sight!”

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
  • 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
  • early case detection, prompt treatment and adequate preventive measures, will go a long way in eradicating this dreadful disease,