Fighting off ‘the sneak thief of the sight’


A middle-aged man was thought to have just been clumsy and absentminded. He frequently suffered bruises and scrapes because he kept bumping into and tripping over things.

One day, he fell from the stairs. A month later, while crossing the street, he was nearly run over by a jeep. He later confessed that he didn’t see the stairs and the oncoming jeep.

The man is suffering from glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness that affects approximately 60 million people around the world.

Glaucoma is often undetected because it almost always has no symptoms WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/FLICKR PHOTO

Glaucoma, a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve, is often undetected because it almost always has no symptoms, which is why it is called “the sneak thief of sight.”

This damage is often caused by an abnormally high pressure in the eye. Glaucoma is the second most common cause of blindness and the leading cause of non-reversible blindness.

Common among Asians, may be under-diagnosed
Many people, particularly those in developing countries such as the Philippines, are unaware they have glaucoma and do not undergo regular eye examinations. As such, glaucoma is likely to be under-diagnosed.

Half of all glaucoma cases are reported in Asia; out of five glaucoma cases, three involve women. Most prevalent type of glaucoma among Asians is angle-closure glaucoma (ACG), accounting for 87-percent of cases. The other type, open-angle glaucoma (OAG) is more common among people of African descent.

The number of people with glaucoma worldwide is expected to rise to 76 million in 2020 and to reach 111 million by 2040.

Importance of regular eye exams
On March 12 to 18, the Philippines joined the global celebration of the 7th World Glaucoma Week. A collaborative project of the World Glaucoma Association and World Glaucoma Patient Association, World Glaucoma Week contributes to the elimination of glaucoma blindness by alerting people to have regular eye checks, including optic nerve checks.

The country’s observance of the 7th World Glaucoma Week was led by the Philippine Glaucoma Society (PGS) in partnership with Novartis Healthcare Philippines.

Established in 1997 and composed of ophthalmologists specially trained in glaucoma, the PGS is committed to improving the quality of glaucoma care in the Philippines through education, research and exchange of ideas.

“Don’t be a victim of the sneak thief of sight. Protect your sight by having regular eye examinations. Early detection is crucial in preventing glaucoma blindness,” said PGS president Dr. Benjamin Abela, Jr.

For more information or inquiries about the PGS, please visit www.philippineglaucomasociety.com.


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