LONDON, March 5 /PRNewswire/ --
- Leading Glaucoma Experts Act to Help Prevent Vision Loss as 50 Percent of Patients Remain Undiagnosed
LONDON, March 5 /PRNewswire/ --
On the first World Glaucoma Day (March 6, 2008), leading glaucoma experts globally are asking those who may be at risk of the condition not to leave their vision to chance - with a clear message that 50 percent of people with open-angle glaucoma and more than 50 percent of people with angle-closure glaucoma are unaware they have it.(1),(2) In addition, 50 percent remain untreated until a large amount of irreversible vision loss has already occurred.(1)
During World Glaucoma Day, experts are encouraging patients at risk for glaucoma to utilize resources from sources like the All Eyes on Glaucoma(TM) campaign, which aims to help people recognize and understand the devastating consequences of glaucoma - the world's second leading cause of blindness. The All Eyes on Glaucoma campaign also seeks to increase public awareness of risk factors for glaucoma and reinforce the critical importance of having regular, complete eye examinations. One key component of the campaign is the interactive consumer website, http://www.AllEyesonGlaucoma.com, which offers tools such as an "Am I at Risk" quiz and a "Conversation Starter" on important questions to ask at the eye doctor.
World Glaucoma Day is a joint initiative by the World Glaucoma Association (WGA) and World Glaucoma Patient Association (WGPA) designed to promote awareness of eye health and the importance of regular eye examinations to reduce the onset of glaucoma. Due to the rapidly growing aging population, the prevalence of glaucoma is expected to rise from 60 million in 2010 to 80 million in 2020 globally.(3)
"World Glaucoma Day offers an opportunity to send a clear message about preventing glaucoma and helping preserve vision- although glaucoma may affect all age groups, individuals at risk and those over age 40 should have regular, comprehensive eye exams that include careful evaluation of the optic nerve and measurement of eye pressure," said Dr. Robert Weinreb, President of the American Glaucoma Society, Past President of the WGA and Distinguished Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of California, San Diego, USA. "Since vision loss from glaucoma is permanent, glaucoma needs to be diagnosed and treated as early as possible."
Important Steps to Proactively Protect Your Vision
Step 1: Learn the Risk Factors
Since glaucoma may not have any early symptoms, the first step in preventing glaucoma is to learn the risk factors and to discuss them with an eye health professional. The primary risk factors for glaucoma include:(4)
- Increasing age
- High eye pressure (or intraocular pressure/IOP)
- Family history of glaucoma
- African and Chinese ancestry(5)
- High blood pressure(6)
Step 2: Get a Complete Eye Examination
For all individuals, especially those at high risk of developing and losing sight from glaucoma, the World Glaucoma Association recommends getting a regular, complete eye exam that includes tests that measure eye pressure, assess the optic nerve and test visual field, including the following:
- Tonometry: Measures eye pressure which should be tracked over time
- Optic nerve exam: Evaluates the optic nerve structure
- Visual Field test: Visual field (or peripheral or side vision) measures the entire area you can see while looking at a fixed point
Impact of Functional Vision Loss
The consequences of vision loss due to irreversible optic nerve damage can greatly affect one's independence, such as the ability to drive and perform basic daily activities due to sensitivity to light, problems with glare, blurred vision and trouble seeing in dark places. According to the American Journal of Ophthalmology, quality of life is also greatly affected.
In fact, nearly 35 percent of newly diagnosed glaucoma patients reported symptoms of nervousness, anxiety or stress.(7)
"In addition to a greater risk of disability, delayed diagnosis of glaucoma results in increased healthcare costs for both the individual and society as a whole," said Professor Roger Hitchings, Professor of Ophthalmology, University College London and Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon, Moorfields Eye Hospital, London, England. "It is crucial to elevate the importance of eye health now to reduce the burden of functional vision loss later as the aging population continues to grow."
About All Eyes on Glaucoma
The campaign All Eyes on Glaucoma(TM) is sponsored by Pfizer Ophthalmics and encourages at-risk individuals to understand more about glaucoma and the practical steps that need to be taken to preserve eye health and prevent optic nerve damage. The global educational program offers an informative website, http://www.alleyesonglaucoma.com, that provides online resources and support to help people take action now and avoid the negative consequences of vision loss later.
About Pfizer Ophthalmics
Pfizer Ophthalmics, a division of Pfizer Inc, is committed to preserving sight and eliminating preventable blindness. Pfizer Ophthalmics discovers, develops and provides leading treatments in ophthalmology to support patients who are at risk of blindness or suffering from vision impairment, and to serve the health care professionals who treat them. Its current product line includes the most prescribed treatment to lower elevated eye pressure in patients with ocular hypertension (abnormally high eye pressure) or open-angle glaucoma. Pfizer Ophthalmics also markets a treatment for neovascular age related macular degeneration outside the U.S. This same treatment is marketed in the U.S. by (OSI) Eyetech.
Notes to Editors:
Glaucoma is the name given to a series of devastating diseases that irreversibly damage the eye's optic nerve. If left unchecked, this can result in serious vision loss over time. Glaucoma is commonly detected by measuring the pressure in the eye, also known as intraocular pressure (IOP). When eye pressure increases over time, the optic nerve becomes damaged. Worldwide, an estimated 6.7 million people are blind from glaucoma, with approximately 70 million people living with the condition.(8)
The two most common forms of glaucoma are:
- Open-angle glaucoma - when the pressure in the eye increases over time due to poor drainage of the aqueous humor.
- Angle-closure glaucoma - when the iris is too close to the drainage canal (trabecular meshwork).
The only modifiable glaucoma risk factor is high eye pressure, though it is possible to develop the condition without it. Due to the build-up of natural fluid produced by the eye, high eye pressure causes permanent damage to the optic nerve, the "cable" used by the eye to communicate to the brain. High eye pressure may exist without noticeable symptoms so many people do not know they have it if their vision is not checked regularly. In fact, people may not notice vision loss until 40 percent or more of their optic nerve has been damaged.(9) IOP is an easily identifiable risk factor; however people who fall within the normal IOP range may still be at risk for glaucoma.
(1) World Health Organization. Bulletin of the World Health Organization. In Focus. Nov 1, 2004. Available at: http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/82/11/feature1104/en/. Accessed July 16, 2007.
(2) Thomas R, Sekhar GC, Parikh R. Primary angle closure glaucoma: a developing a world perspective. Clinical & Experimental Ophthalmology 2007; 35(4): 374-378(5)
(3) Quigley HA, Broman AT. The number of people with glaucoma worldwide in 2010 and 2020. Br J Ophthalmol. 2006; 90: 262-267.
(4) The Glaucoma Foundation. Who's At Risk? Available at: http://www.glaucomafoundation.org/Risk.htm. Accessed on August 24, 2007.
(5) World Health Organization. Bulletin of the World Health Organization. In Focus, Nov. 1 2004
(6) U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Guarding Against Glaucoma. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/fdac/features/995_glaucoma.html. Accessed on August 24, 2007
(7) Jampel HD, Frick KD, Janz NK. Depression and Mood Indicators in Newly Diagnosed Glaucoma Patients. American Journal of Ophthalmology. 2007; 144(2): 238-244.e1.
(8) Congdon NG, Friedman DS, Lietman T. Important Causes of Visual Impairment in the World Today. JAMA. 2003; 290: 2057-2060.
(9) American Family Physician. Open-Angle Glaucoma - May 1, 2003. Available at: http://www.aafp.org/afp/20030501/1937.html. Accessed August 8, 2007.
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