Glaucoma can happen to anyone. It can develop in any age, gender, race or profession.
This eye problem occurs when there is damage to the optic nerve usually associated with elevated pressure inside the eye.
“We call it the ‘sneaky’ eye problem because the symptoms can be very subtle,” Asian Eye Institute glaucoma specialist Dr. Paul Gomez shares. “Glaucoma usually affects the peripheral or side vision, which may be unnoticeable to the patient. Only when the disease has become severe does the patient notice the problem, prompting them to seek consult.”
Other symptoms include severe headaches, eye pain, eye redness, vomiting or haloes in the vision. When it occurs in children, they may appear to have enlarged eyes due to constantly high eye pressure. If left undetected and untreated, glaucoma may lead to permanent blindness.
There are different types of glaucoma, but the most common ones are angle closure glaucoma and open angle glaucoma.
Glaucoma Awareness Week
Gomez explains: “Angle closure glaucoma occurs when there is blockage in the drainage canal of the eye causing the fluid inside to build up; thus, the symptoms can happen abruptly. In open angle glaucoma, the drainage canal itself is damaged. The symptoms may not be as dramatic as angle closure glaucoma, so there is a chance that you will not know that you have it.”
In observance of World Glaucoma Awareness Week on March 8-14, Gomez emphasizes the need for early detection to prevent blindness caused by glaucoma.
“Having glaucoma doesn’t necessarily mean you will go blind. By undergoing annual comprehensive eye exams, we can diagnose glaucoma early enough to save or preserve your vision.”
Annual comprehensive eye exams are highly recommended especially for people who are over 60 years old, who have a family member diagnosed with glaucoma, who are extremely nearsighted, with a previous eye injury or have been using steroids for a long time.
“Treatments like eyedrops and surgery are now available,” Gomez says. “But we need to know first the extent of the patient’s eye condition and the type of glaucoma before we can recommend the appropriate treatment plan. Patients will generally need lifetime treatment, but the main goal here is to lower or maintain the eye pressure at an acceptable level to prevent any vision loss.
“Living a healthy lifestyle can also be very beneficial,” he adds. “You can do regular exercises, maintain a balanced diet and avoid smoking. Wearing protective eyewear while playing sports or doing home improvement projects can help prevent eye injuries, too.”
Asian Eye offers comprehensive eye exams and glaucoma screenings. It has clinics in Rockwell Center, TriNoma, SM Mall of Asia, Commercenter Alabang and Santolan Town Plaza. For inquiries and appointments, call 8-898-2020 or 0918-8982020, or visit www.asianeyeinstitute.com. (Story/Photos by: Charizze Henson)