Newswise — To celebrate World Glaucoma Week 2023, which takes place in the second week of March every year and falls on March 12-18, 2023, the Excellence Center for Glaucoma, Department of Ophthalmology, Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University, King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital, and Thai Glaucoma Society encourages all of us to realize the significance of glaucoma as it is the world’s number 1 cause of irreversible blindness. In Thailand, over 2 million people are affected by glaucoma.

According to Assoc. Prof. Dr. Visanee Tantisevi from the Department of Ophthalmology, Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University, and King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital “glaucoma is a danger that usually includes no early symptoms. However, if patients are vigilant in checking their eye health and regularly see their ophthalmologist to have a check-up and receive treatment in its early stage, loss of sight from glaucoma can be prevented.”                                        

Glaucoma is an eye condition where the optic nerve and the surrounding fibers become damaged, followed by optic atrophy, leading to blurred vision and blindness if left untreated. While a common risk factor is high pressure in the eye, some patients whose eye pressure is low can also have glaucoma, which may be caused by other factors. Most cases of glaucoma do not have any symptoms and may be detected during a routine check-up or by accident. Patients who get tested when they already have symptoms, especially loss of sight, tend to have an advanced stage of glaucoma,” explained Assoc. Prof. Dr. Visanee.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Visanee spoke of the risk group of glaucoma that, “People who are at risk of glaucoma are those over 40 years old, have abnormally high eye pressure, have direct relatives with glaucoma, have extreme myopia or presbyopia, including people who have been in accidents involving the eye and those who usually use steroids, especially eyedrops. People in this risk group, no matter how old, should see an ophthalmologist for a routine check-up at least once a year in order to detect the condition early or in its early stage. The sooner glaucoma is detected, the better their chances are for quick treatment. The purpose is to slow down or stop the progression of the disease, preventing it from reaching a dangerous phase that can cause blindness.”

There are many ways to treat and control glaucoma, namely pressure-reducing eyedrops, laser treatment, surgery, etc. Currently, the medical world still does not accept food supplements, herbs, or hard eye massages as treatments for glaucoma due to a lack of substantial empirical evidence in support of the efficiency of such treatments. Therefore, strict caution and discretion are needed in caring for your eyes. If you suspect that you might be at risk of glaucoma, consulting an ophthalmologist is an ideal option.”    

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Visanee added that, “Before COVID-19, the Glaucoma Center, Department of Ophthalmology, Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University, and King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital, offered free glaucoma screening service to the public, especially the risk group, to raise awareness in eye health and increase access to eye check-up. Interested individuals can find news and information on King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital’s website and Facebook page.”                                                                     

Anyone who wishes to check for and treat glaucoma can contact a hospital near you or the Ophthalmology OPD, King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital, on Monday – Friday, from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM. For more information, please call +66 2256-4000.