Living with glaucoma: Tips for coping and maintaining visual health, quality of life | Health - Hindustan Times
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Living with glaucoma: Tips for coping and maintaining visual health, quality of life

ByZarafshan Shiraz, New Delhi
Apr 23, 2024 11:54 AM IST

Eye expert reveals how individuals can mitigate the progression of glaucoma and preserve their visual health

Glaucoma is the third leading cause of blindness in India after cataract and refractive error and in India, the burden of glaucoma is 11.9 million where glaucoma is responsible for blindness in 1.2 million people and accounts for 5.5% of total blindness, putting it as leading causes of irreversible blindness in India. A global initiative of celebrating glaucoma week was taken up to increase awareness about glaucoma in the community more than a decade ago however, awareness about glaucoma continues to be low in India.

Living with glaucoma: Tips for coping and maintaining visual health, quality of life (Photo by Unsplash)
Living with glaucoma: Tips for coping and maintaining visual health, quality of life (Photo by Unsplash)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Akhilesh Sharma, Chief Medical Officer at Alkem Laboratories, revealed, “Glaucoma has no clear symptoms until its late stages and requires complex diagnostic skills to be identified, and is often masked by other eye conditions. Therefore a ‘pain to catch’ early. The only way to check for it is to get a comprehensive regular  eye examination. There’s no cure for glaucoma, but starting treatment as early as possible can help stop vision loss.”

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Anyone can get glaucoma, but some people are at higher risk, including people who:

  • Are over age – 40 - 60 and above
  • Have a family history of glaucoma
  • Have chronic illnesses like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, myopia and prolonged use of oral contraceptive pills increases susceptibility to glaucoma.

Dr Akhilesh Sharma shared, “For screening of normal individuals for glaucoma since glaucoma does not present with any early warning signs in most cases, Ophthalmologists advise eye check-up at least every year for people above 60 years, every 2 years for people between 40 -60 years and every 4 years for people below 40 years of age.”

When to seek emergency help in Glaucoma:

Dr Akhilesh Sharma highlighted that angle-closure glaucoma can cause following sudden symptoms:

  • Intense eye pain
  • Upset stomach (nausea)
  • Red eye
  • Blurry vision

Doctors use different types of treatment for glaucoma, including medicines (usually eye drops), laser treatment and surgery. Dr Akhilesh Sharma opined, “Living with glaucoma necessitates a holistic approach, encompassing not only medical treatment but also lifestyle adjustments, control of chronic conditions which increase risk of glaucoma and psychological support. By adhering to prescribed treatments, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and seeking regular eye examinations, individuals can mitigate the progression of glaucoma and preserve their visual health. Maintaining a healthy weight, controlling your blood pressure, being physically active and avoiding smoking will help you avoid vision loss from glaucoma.”

He concluded, “Foods that can provide protection for vision include those containing high levels of antioxidants, vitamins A (especially retinol), C, and E, and zinc. Spinach and other leafy green vegetables contain high amounts of these antioxidants. A good rule of thumb to obtain the proper nutrients for ocular health is to eat colorfully (especially green and orange). Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for glaucoma patients as they decrease IOP, increase ocular blood flow, and improve optic neuroprotective function.”

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