Increased Glaucoma Awareness Leading to More People Seeking Treatment for Conditions that Cause Vision Loss and Blindness
Doha, 13 January, 2020: Raising public awareness through education about the importance of periodic eye checks and increased knowledge about eye diseases such as glaucoma is promoting more people in Qatar to proactively seek medical assistance related to their eye health, says Dr. Zakia Al Ansari, Glaucoma Consultant at Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Hamad General Hospital.
According to Dr. Al Ansari, the Ophthalmology Department at Hamad General Hospital receives between 300 and 500 patients each month with various forms of glaucoma. She says glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the world.
People with glaucoma require lifelong treatment to maintain their vision and if left untreated, the condition can lead to complete blindness. Dr. Al Ansari notes that due to many forms of glaucoma having no symptoms, diagnosis is often made at the late stage of the condition when damage to the eye has already occurred.
“Due to our efforts toward creating awareness about glaucoma in Qatar, an increasing number of people now seek medical care concerning the health of their eyes. We believe early diagnosis and treatment are helping many of these people to prevent vision loss,” says Dr. Al Ansari.
Dr. Al Ansari explains that glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve, the health of which is vital for good vision. She says the underlying cause of glaucoma depends on the type and stage of the condition and that in most cases, an individual is unaware they have glaucoma until it has caused irreversible damage.
“While glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in people over the age of 60, it can occur at any age. Many forms of glaucoma have no warning signs and the effect is so gradual that an individual may not notice a change in vision until the condition is at an advanced stage,” said Dr. Al Ansari.
“Vision loss due to glaucoma can't be recovered, so it's important to have regular eye exams that include measurements of your eye pressure so a diagnosis can be made in its early stages and treated appropriately. If glaucoma is recognized early, vision loss can be slowed or even prevented,” added Dr. Al Ansari.
Dr. Al Ansari says it is important for people to understand that glaucoma is a serious eye condition and that the most common type of glaucoma can only be detected during a comprehensive eye exam. She said in recent years the health sector in Qatar has taken steps to promote the importance of routine eye checks as the only effective way to protect one’s eye health and prevent vision loss from glaucoma.
She says HMC’s Ophthalmology Department has also introduced sophisticated imaging technology and various diagnostic procedures to help detect and prevent vision loss from glaucoma, including enhanced depth imaging optical coherence tomography (EDI-OCT), optical coherence tomography angiography (OCTA), and endoscopic cyclophotocoagulation (ECP). Dr. Al Ansari says while technology is important when it comes to correctly diagnosing glaucoma, early detection through regular eye checkups is the key to slowing the progression of it and other conditions that can cause vision loss and blindness.