Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Ophthalmology Department is spreading awareness on the importance of prevention and early detection of glaucoma in observance of the World Glaucoma Week.

HMC’s Ophthalmology Section specialist, Dr Zakia Mohamed Al Ansari, said:

Half of people with glaucoma are unaware of their condition and could be slowly losing their sight because their glaucoma has not been diagnosed or treated. Prevention is the best way to fight glaucoma, and early detection through screening as well as careful lifelong treatment are important to maintain vision in people with glaucoma.’

Elevated eye pressure is often present in glaucoma and considered a risk factor; however, in rare cases even patients with a normal range of eye pressure can develop the disease. The exact cause of glaucoma is unknown.’

The week is being observed at HMC as part of the awareness campaign led by Ophthalmology Department’s Glaucoma team from 16 March 2014 until March 20 with a glaucoma screening booth set up for the public at the Hamad General Hospital’s Outpatient Department lobby.

HMC is the principal public healthcare provider for the State of Qatar. The corporation manages eight hospitals along with further specialist clinical, educational and research facilities, and is growing in capacity each year around the diverse needs of the evolving population. HMC’s ambition is to become an academic health system; a world leading center of excellence in clinical care, medical education and research that transforms into significant clinical advancements.

The booth proved popular last year, with dozens of people lining up to avail of free glaucoma checks as well as educational materials about the disease.

Glaucoma is a common eye complaint, which is the second leading cause of blindness in adults worldwide. Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that lead to progressive damage of the optic nerve, the part of the eye that carries visual information from the eye’s retina to the brain. The progressive damage can result in gradual, irreversible loss of vision and eventually blindness if left untreated. Glaucoma affects more than 67 million people worldwide.

Dr Al Ansari advises yearly testing for people at high risk, including people of African descent, people with diabetes, those with a family history of glaucoma, those above 30 years old and those who had an eye injury or trauma.