By: Antoinette Stafford Cloete (Communications Manager)
World Glaucoma Week (WGW) is a joint initiative between the World Glaucoma Association and the World Glaucoma Patient Association who joined forces a decade ago to help create more awareness on the disease.
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that causes progressive damage of the optic nerve at the point where it leaves the eye to carry visual information to the brain. If left untreated, most types of glaucoma progress towards gradually worsening visual damage and may lead to blindness. Glaucoma is the second most common cause of blindness worldwide.
It was once believed that the cause of most or all glaucomas was high pressure within the eye (known as intraocular pressure sometimes abbreviated as IOP). It is now established however, that even people without an abnormally high IOP may suffer from glaucoma. Intraocular pressure is considered therefore today as a "Risk Factor" for glaucoma, together with other factors such as racial ancestry, family history, high myopia and age.
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.
ACG 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. Therefore, early detection is 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.
More details about WGW and many examples of glaucoma awareness activities around the world are to be found on the WGW website or on the WGW Facebook page. You can also access WGW's Patient Guide to caring for their glaucoma during the pandemic.
WGW is commemorated to raise awareness of this silent robber of vision.
Acknowledgement: Content reused from the National Department of Health website in the interest of public health information-sharing purposes
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