News / Health

Glaucoma, A Stealth Disease And Major Cause of Blindness

Glaucoma, A Stealth Disease And Major Cause of Blindness

x
Glaucoma, A Stealth Disease And Major Cause of Blindnessi
|| 0:00:00
X
September 27, 2012 1:02 AM
Glaucoma is a major cause of blindness around the world, but especially in developing countries. The World Health Organization says glaucoma is a greater public health challenge than cataracts, because the blindness caused by glaucoma is permanent. VOA's Carol Pearson has more on what glaucoma is and who's at risk.

Glaucoma, A Stealth Disease And Major Cause of Blindness

Carol Pearson
Glaucoma is a major cause of blindness around the world, but especially in developing countries.  The World Health Organization says glaucoma is a greater public health challenge than cataracts, because the blindness caused by glaucoma is permanent.

If you think you are not at risk for glaucoma, think again.  Glaucoma is a disease that steals the sight of people around the world -- and they typically don't even know they have the disease until it has permanently destroyed at least 40 percent of their vision.  

Dr. Alan Robin specializes in treating glaucoma.

"It's the leading cause of blindness in the United States.  In Hispanics and in African-Americans, it’s the second leading cause of blindness," said Robin.

In China and in India, glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness.

"The glaucoma you see in sub-Saharan Africa is a much more aggressive, much more blinding disease than the glaucoma we see in Americans or even African-Americans in the United States," he said.

Dr. Eric Fleischer sees these racial differences at Medstar Washington Hospital Center.  

"Pretty much anybody who has ancestry in Africa has an increased chance for developing glaucoma," said Fleischer.

Age is another risk factor for glaucoma, although people of all ages can get it.  As Dr. Robin explains, it's a group of diseases that commonly produce pressure in the eye.

"An eye is sort of like a watch. And behind the face of the watch that has the numbers, fluid is made.  It goes through your pupil and into the front of the watch between the numbers or the face and the crystal.  There's an area around the edge of the watch that drains the fluid," he said.

When that drain is clogged, the fluid can't leave the eye as fast as it is produced. The rising pressure within the eye damages and eventually kills the optic nerve. The result is blindness.

The process is usually so painless and subtle, people don't notice it.     

"Typically they'll notice if they bump into door frames, because they've lost their peripheral vision, or they'll start having car accidents because they don't see a car to one side or the other," said Fleischer.

Fortunately, glaucoma can be easily diagnosed.  The simplest test measures peripheral vision. That's because with glaucoma the side vision is the first to go.  

The good news is that, if caught early, glaucoma can be managed.  

"It's not preventable, but it's treatable," said Robin.

Glaucoma is not reversible, but, as researchers learn more about it, they grow more hopeful that glaucoma can one day be cured or even prevented.

We'll learn about treatment options in Carol Pearson's next report on glaucoma.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid