By 2020, the number of people in the world with glaucoma is expected to reach 76.0 million. That is more than the entire population of the UK. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the world. Fortunately, it is highly treatable with the right medications and intervention if detected early.
This week is the 7th World Glaucoma Week. This was launched back in 2010 and the aim has been to increase awareness of the disease. The key to managing glaucoma is early diagnosis. Glaucoma generally involves high intraocular pressure (high pressure within the eye) which causes damage to the optic nerve. This is the main nerve that helps us to see.
Your optician can check the pressure in your eye with a simple painless test. By looking in your eyes they can also look for signs of damage to the optic nerve caused by glaucoma. As with high blood pressure which damages our blood vessels, the aim is to keep the pressure down. Early detection allows use of appropriate eye drops which reduce the eye pressure and minimise/stop damage to the optic nerve.
This year, the particular aims are to get national health authorities across the world (such as the NHS) to design strategies to combat glaucoma blindness. Educational materials about glaucoma should be delivered to those people at risk via all mediums including social networks. Resources should be focussed on those patients least likely to access eye care.
Thousands offer their time for free to support World Glaucoma Week and much has been achieved by the previous years. The aim is now to build on this work and reduce the effects of this potentially blinding disease. You can find out more on at the World Glaucoma Week website.