Look out for Glaucoma symptoms, MoH urge

By Kabeer Yousuf — MUSCAT: March 12 – The Ministry of Health (MoH) has urged the public to observe caution against glaucoma as this silent killer is on the prowl and advised both locals and expats to report any symptoms of the same to the nearest primary health centre. Worldwide, the disease has been claiming sight of more people and medics who assembled at the Al Nahda Hospital to mark World Glaucoma Week which started yesterday unanimously agreed to launch awareness campaigns across the country. The symptoms of Glaucoma, a condition of increased pressure within the eyeball which cause gradual loss of sight, are more often than not ignored or taken lightly, according to Dr Mariam bint Suleiman al Wahaibi, Head of the Department of Ophthalmology at Al Nahda Hospital.
“We need to assess the seriousness of Glaucoma as it can lead to serious results if left untreated. It can cause loss of vision, and make the patient even permanently blind.” According to available statistics, Glaucoma affects around 70 million people worldwide and is the second biggest cause of blindness, having taken the sight of over 6 million people. The incidence of glaucoma in Oman has jumped manifold. The number of blind persons among 40 years and older populations are projected to be 165,000 by year 2050 in Oman, depending on the present blindness rates. This is against 19,500, 22,500, and 28,500 in the years 1996, 2005, and 2009, respectively.
“This can prove to be true depending upon the ongoing number of cases and to check this scenario, people who are over the age of forty and those most vulnerable to the disease need to carry out periodic inspection of their eyes”, she added.
952724Dr Ali Sheikh, Consultant — Eye Diseases specialised in glaucoma at the Al Nahda Hospital, Dr Haitham Mahrooqi and Dr Ammar, Resident doctors in Medicine programme in Ophthalmology and Dr Saleh al Harbi, Senior Consultant at the Department of Non-Communicable Diseases stressed the cooperation of various departments, NGO’s like Al Noor Association for the Blind, and private organisations in freeing the country from glaucoma.
According to the experts, there are two main types of glaucoma, open angle and closed angle (angle closure) glaucoma. The fluid in the eye flows through an area between the iris and cornea, where it escapes via the trabecular meshwork — “angle” refers to this area. The trabecular meshwork is made of sponky tissue lined by trabeculocytes. Fluid drains into a set of tubes, known as Schlemm’s canal, from which they flow into the blood system.
The main symptoms of glaucoma include gradual loss of peripheral vision of almost both eyes and in advanced stages, the patient will have tunnel vision. Severe eye pain accompanied by nausea, and sometimes vomiting, blurred vision, red eyes, sudden and unexpected vision problems, especially when lighting is poor and when lights appear to have extra halo-like glows around them, don’t delay to seek an ophthalmologist’s service to save one’s vision, according to the doctors.
“A symptom is something the sufferer experiences and describes, such as pain, while a sign is something others can identify, such as a rash or a swelling and when any of these signs are spotted, you need to seek the help of an ophthalmologist immediately”, doctors said.