•Health experts have warned that even though everyone is at risk of getting glaucoma, some people are at higher risk of getting the disease
•They include people who are aged 35 years and above, those with a history of glaucoma in their family and those with diabetes mellitus
You are advised to go for frequent eye checkups as the only sure way to avoid blindness from glaucoma.
Glaucoma is an eye disease that causes progressive and irreversible loss of eyesight.
Health experts have warned that even though everyone is at risk of getting glaucoma, some people are at higher risk of getting the disease.
They include people who are aged 35 years and above, those with a history of glaucoma in their family and those with diabetes mellitus.
This comes as Kenya begins to mark the Glaucoma awareness week expected to run from March 12 to March 18 under the theme ‘The world is bright, save your sight’.
Dr Gideon Nderi, an ophthalmologist at the Kenyatta National Hospital says the condition arises when the optic nerve that takes the message from the eye to the brain is destroyed as a result of high pressures in the eye.
“That is why screening is very important. There can also be a problem from injury or where some chemical has entered your eye,” he says.
According to the medic, there are instances where the disease sets in slowly making it a silent killer.
The expert warns that the condition has no symptoms in the beginning until much later when there is marked loss of eyesight.
“On average most people do not even know they have glaucoma until it is too late but the key thing is that there is pressure in the eye which causes the nerve to be compressed,” he notes.
He notes that the optic nerve has 1.2 million fibres but they go reducing up to a point where the message sent to the brain is not enough to give you a picture of what you need to see.
Some of the symptoms of glaucoma include blurred or distorted vision, frequent change of reading glasses and headache.
Later, the eyesight to the sides is lost and only the objects in the form are seen clearly. In advanced stages, all eyesight is lost and cannot be restored.
“Most people come to us when their vision has gone down which is pretty late. Largely it is painless until at very advanced stages,” he says.