UAE: Feeling increased eye pressure? Ignoring it may lead to loss of vision, doctors warn

Glaucoma is the third-highest cause of blindness in the world, with an estimated 4.5 million suffering from the 'silent disease'


Angel Tesorero

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Published: Wed 15 Mar 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Thu 16 Mar 2023, 3:58 PM

When you frequently feel increased pressure on your eyes, please don't ignore. It might lead to glaucoma and many people may not be aware of it. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the world, even in the UAE, according to doctors.

One cause of high eye pressure is the overproduction of aqueous – the clear, watery fluid in the eye behind the iris. Trauma to the eye can also lead to high pressure. Another cause is the use of steroid medications, including steroidal eye drops, that could cause high eye pressure.

The pressure in your eyes is called intraocular pressure. When that pressure is higher than normal, it causes ocular hypertension. While it is not an eye disease, it is an indication that could develop into glaucoma.

Eye doctors estimate around 4.5 million people have gone blind because of glaucoma, making it the third highest cause of blindness in the world. It can be difficult to diagnose glaucoma because symptoms don’t appear immediately and it develops slowly over the years until it causes irreparable damage to one’s vision.

Regular eye screening

“The solution is to have regular eye screening,” said Dr. Muhsen Samaan, medical director of Barraquer Eye Hospital UAE, adding: “Glaucoma is a completely asymptomatic or silent disease. Testing for it is essential; the procedure is fast and painless.”

Dr Samaan explained: “Glaucoma is popularly known as increased eye pressure. The optic nerve, over time in this disease, is damaged and there is a leak in its fibres and consequently a leak of the visual field and vision.”

“We must not forget one of the most important risk factors is the hereditary factor since the descendants of glaucoma patients may suffer from glaucoma more frequently,” he continued.

Early detection

Dr. Raeba Mathew, HOD, specialist ophthalmologist at Canadian Specialist Hospital in Dubai, noted: “A routine eye examination with an ophthalmologist may help to detect the disease and commence treatment if necessary.”

“Glaucoma is a disease affecting the eyes where the pressure in the eyes increases and causes damage to the optic nerve. If undetected and untreated, it can lead to loss of vision,” she reiterated.

Dr. Mathew continued: “Once the disease is diagnosed by checking the eye pressure, further tests such as a scan of the optic nerve and visual field help in confirmation of the disease. Treatment for open-angle glaucoma is mainly medical with the use of eye drops to bring the pressure down. Sometimes a combination of eye drops may be necessary. If uncontrolled, surgery may be an option. Narrow-angle glaucoma may need laser surgery.

“Once treatment is instituted, it helps to prevent further nerve damage, although it cannot reverse the damage that has already occurred,” she added.

Critical diagnosis

Dr. Mohammad Reza, specialist at International Modern Hospital Dubai, pointed out: “Early diagnosis and treatment are critical. Treatments for all glaucoma types are directed to save remaining optic nerve fibre. Those lost and destroyed will not return to normal. Treatments include eye drops, tablets, laser and surgery.”

He added: “There is no way to prevent glaucoma generally. However frequent eye examination, especially in high-risk groups, helps with early detection. A full eye examination is the only way to detect glaucoma. This includes particularly eye pressure measurement, dilated eye exam, and other necessary tests if needed. Glaucoma is one of the most important causes of blindness, but this blindness can be avoided and prevented with a medical examination and frequent follow-up.”


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