Genetic factors and diabetes statistics in the region make regular screening crucial
Dubai, UAE, June 22nd, 2015: Apollo Hospitals, Asia’s foremost healthcare provider, urged vulnerable groups to take the simple steps that can prevent the damaging consequences of glaucoma, the number one cause of irreversible blindness. Citing genetic factors and the high prevalence of diabetes among GCC citizens, experts at Apollo Hospitals reminded that glaucoma could pose a major healthcare challenge for the Gulf States in spite of the economic prosperity and exceptional quality of life in the region.
Glaucoma is a condition in which the optic nerves are damaged as a result of pressure build-up inside the eye. The pressure build-up, known as intra-ocular pressure, blocks the optic nerve from transmitting images to the brain, gradually leading to permanent loss of vision when left untreated. Glaucoma is often referred to as the ‘sneak thief of sight’ as most people with the disease have no early symptoms or pain from the increased pressure, which leaves them totally unaware of the looming threat.
The World Health Organisation estimates that 4.5 million people worldwide are blind due to glaucoma, also known to be the second leading cause of blindness. People above the age of 40 and those with unmanaged diabetes or family history of glaucoma are considered to be at high risk though children and young adults are not completely excluded. Regular screening and medical intervention, including surgery, can slow down further deterioration among glaucoma patients and prevent permanent loss of vision.
“The biggest challenge of glaucoma is that many people are unaware of the condition till their vision is lost for ever. Left untreated, glaucoma can cause total permanent blindness within a few years. Early detection is hence important and for that, high risk groups should undergo regular eye check-ups. An eye specialist can detect any onset of glaucoma through some simple, pain-free procedures,” said Dr.K.Hariprasad, CEO, Apollo Hospitals.at Apollo Hospitals.
“People of African origin and diabetics are often found to be highly predisposed to glaucoma. The GCC countries where the incidence is diabetes is among the highest in the world should therefore be on high alert against glaucoma. Recent statistics by the International Diabetes Foundation (IDF) shows seven of the top 20 countries with prevalence of diabetes are from the Middle East and North Africa region with the Gulf States in the lead. Saudi Arabia has almost 24 per cent of its population diabetic, while Qatar has 19.8 per cent and the UAE has 19 per cent,” added Dr.Hariprasad.
Other than the high risk groups, those with high blood pressure, history of eye injuries or dependent on steroid medications should also undergo screening for glaucoma. While glaucoma cannot be prevented, early detection enables better management of the condition through eye drops or pills. In certain advanced cases surgical procedures including laser surgery is recommended.
Dr.Hariprasad said that the Apollo Hospitals network has the most advanced facilities for glaucoma diagnosis, therapy and surgery. “A trabeculectomy is the most common type of glaucoma surgery. It involves restoring the flow of eye fluid after removing blockages in the eye’s drainage system caused as a result of intra-ocular pressure. Laser treatment, which uses high energy beams of light, can also be used to open up the blocked trabecular meshwork (drainage tubes) within your eye.”
Glaucoma services at Apollo Hospitals also include Applanation tonometry, Humphrey visual fields, Stereo disk photography, Ultrasonic diagnostics, Filtering and antimetabolite filtering surgery, Implants, Cyclocryotherapy, Laser cycloablation, Choroidal effusion/drainage, Argon laser trabeculoplasty, YAG laser procedures and Goniotomy .
Apollo Hospitals is a major referral centre for minimally invasive surgeries and receives a large number of patients from all over the world looking for affordable, superior quality medical care along with less waiting time and minimum hospital stay. Over 60,000 foreign patients from across the world, including the UAE, Oman and Qatar, have been successfully treated at the hospital during the last five years and the numbers are increasing every year.
Emirates, one of the world’s fastest growing airlines, has teamed up with Apollo Hospitals, to connect international patients with quality healthcare services in India. As part of the joint venture, the patients and their attendants from 19 countries across Middle East and Africa can visit the hospital’s flagship locations in Chennai, Hyderabad, New Delhi, Kolkata, Ahmadabad and Bangalore to avail specially formulated fares for round-trip flights on Emirates.