Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi Raising Awareness During Glaucoma Awareness Month
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. January 28, 2018: Glaucoma is one of the UAE's leading causes of blindness, often going unnoticed until it causes loss of vision, and specialists at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi are urging residents to get regular testing.
January is Glaucoma Awareness Month and health organizations are joining together to share information about the condition. Globally, glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness, with more than 60 million people suffering from the disease and 4.5 million people worldwide blind because of it, according to the World Health Organization.
The most common form of glaucoma is primary open-angle glaucoma, which accounts for a large majority of cases. It is caused when the natural fluid inside the eye does not drain as well as it should, increasing pressure within the eye, leading to damage to the optic nerve, the main connection that sends signals controlling vision to the brain. Those who have the condition are usually unaware they are affected until they are screened or notice a change in, or even sudden loss of, their eyesight.
“Glaucoma is usually symptom-free until it causes irreparable damage to a person's vision or even blindness. Regular screenings are important, particularly for those who are at a higher risk of developing the disease. Diagnosing glaucoma early is essential, so we encourage people to go for eye check-ups as frequently and easily as they do for blood pressure and general health checks. Testing for glaucoma is both quick and painless,” says Dr. Scott Smith, Chief of Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi's Eye Institute.
While glaucoma can develop at any point in a person's life, it is most common in people over 40 and those with significant risk factors, such as diabetes or a family history of the disease. Since the disease causes no symptoms until its later stages, people at risk should be screened every year. Those under 40 and without significant risk factors should be screened about every five years.
“The prospect of losing one's eyesight is distressing to patients and the only way to prevent it is to diagnose glaucoma before it causes any permanent damage. The good news is that if we catch it early, there are a range of treatments available to manage the condition and prevent vision loss,” explains Dr. Smith.
Screening for glaucoma usually starts with a simple, painless test to measure the eye pressure. The doctor then examines the patient to evaluate the fluid drainage from the eye, and examines the optic nerve to identify any signs of damage. Additional tests of the vision and imaging tests of the optic nerve are also helpful to detect the disease. If present, glaucoma is treated with eye drops to lower eye pressure, or with laser surgery to improve the fluid drainage from the eye. At Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, physicians develop an individualized treatment plan that takes into account underlying causes, the severity of the condition and the patient's wishes.
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is using Glaucoma Awareness Month to highlight the importance of regular screening to protect vision. The hospital's Eye Institute offers treatment for every kind of eye pressure elevation, using the latest technology and surgeons experienced in complex glaucoma laser and surgical procedures.