Reducing glaucoma cases is a challenge worldwide. This disease has caused, until now, a balance of approximately 8 million blind people of both eyes.
The fact that the actual prevalence of the disease is increasing is not due to an increase in the number of cases, but because the population at risk is increasing. For example, in China, the proportion of people of age prone to glaucoma is expanding dramatically, and the same occurs in India and South Asia. At present, the people live longer.
Glaucoma is the second cause of blindness in the world after cataracts. However, glaucoma is the main cause of irreversible blindness. An estimated 8.4 million people were blind from both eyes, because of glaucoma in 2010. By 2020, that number will have risen to 11.1 million.
The key to preventing blindness caused by glaucoma is the effective diagnosis and treatment of patients at risk in developed and developing countries. However, the treatment of the disease is a challenge in some areas, such as in China, India, and Africa, where the patients are usually not diagnosed or do not have access to the necessary care or affordable treatments.
Glaucoma is a costly treatment disease, and the recent economic crisis severely hampered economic access to health care in developing countries.
In addition to the costs of medication and surgery, other factors that may be very costly in the long term, such as transporting patients to comply with office visits and decreasing patient productivity due to visual loss, may be disregarded.
In developing countries, the cost of treatment has been a serious problem.
In Africa, the problem of economic viability and access to health care is evident due to the increasing rate of adults with glaucoma damage.
Who is at Risk of Developing Glaucoma?
Women have higher rates of glaucoma than men, a fact that possibly plays a very important role in relation to blindness caused by the disease.
Two thirds of blind people due to glaucoma are women. It is probably because women have a higher average life than men. In addition, certain cultural aspects may influence the medical treatment women receive in certain communities.
Race also plays a role in the disease. Individuals of Asian ethnicity will have formed in 2010, 47% of the total population of cases with open angle glaucoma and 87% of cases with closed angle glaucoma. Studies also showed that black populations have a higher risk of open-angle glaucoma than white populations.
Race can affect the severity of the disease, especially in developing countries where access to treatment is limited.
In Africa, glaucoma is a “deadly disease”, according to studies that suggested that blind people are four times more likely to die than sighted people. Women with visual impairment had a higher mortality rate than men with the same problem.
An important method to reduce the incidence of the disease is the development of new and safer surgical options. It is also necessary to continue researching accessible medical treatment options that do not require such strict adherence of the patient. This would also contribute to the solution of the problem.
In conclusion, some people are at a higher risk than normal for glaucoma. This includes people who:
- Are over 40
- Have relatives with glaucoma
- Are of African, Hispanic, or Asian descent
- Have high eye pressure
- Have farsightedness or myopia
- Suffered an eye injury
- Prolonged use of steroids
- Have thin corneas in the center
- Suffer from narrowing of the optic nerve
- Have diabetes, high blood pressure, migraines, poor blood circulation or other health problems that affect the entire body.
- Young adults can also have glaucoma. African-Americans are particularly susceptible to it at an early age.