Glaucoma predicted to affect 111.4 million people worldwide by 2040

Study finds glaucoma to be a significant healthcare burden in the US and worldwide

A 2020 study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information showed approximately 80 million people worldwide were affected by the sight-stealing disease, glaucoma. By 2040 that number will reach an estimated 111.8 million.

“Based on our study, glaucoma represents a significant healthcare burden both in the U.S. and worldwide,” write the researchers from the study. “Changes need to be made to reduce the incidence of glaucoma and stop it from being a bigger public health threat.”

Glaucoma is a multifactorial optic degenerative eye condition that is vital for good vision, damage is often caused by an abnormally high pressure in the human eye. The disease is a combination of vascular, genetic, anatomical and immune factors, according to the study.

Mayo Clinic lists different types of glaucoma. The most common type is open-angle glaucoma that happens so slowly people may end up losing vision before they’re aware of a problem.

Other types include angle-closure glaucoma, normal-tension glaucoma and pigmentary glaucoma. Glaucoma in infants and children can be present from birth or develop in the first few years of life.

In a 2004 study, Japanese researchers linked heavy computer usage to glaucoma. Spending too much time looking at a computer screen may raise your risk of the disease.

The researchers conducted the study by observing over 10,000 workers from four different, prominent Japanese companies including Masayuki Tatemichi of the environmental and occupational health department of Japan’s Toho University School of Medicine, according to WebMD. The study asked participants to track their typical, day-to-day computer usage.

More than 500 participants had problems with their vision. Of workers studied, 165 were found to have glaucoma, and nearsightedness was also found in 136 of 165 participants with glaucoma.

People who are over 60 years of age, family members of those already diagnosed with glaucoma, steroid users, diabetics, as well as those with high myopia, hypertension, central corneal thickness of less than 5 millimeters and eye injury are at an increased risk of glaucoma.

“Due to the high inheritance rate of glaucoma, people with a family history of glaucoma should be educated about it and screened for it as early as possible. Likewise, people with a high risk factor for glaucoma should undergo genetic counseling to see if they test positive for glaucoma genes,” researchers write.

The disease is treated with eye drops, oral medicine or surgery to reduce pressure in the eye and prevent permanent vision loss. In some cases, laser or surgical procedures are recommended to reduce pressure in the eye, so it is important to schedule regular eye doctor appointments to monitor eye pressures.

Young adults can take action to prevent the blinding disease by maintaining a healthy weight, controlling their blood pressure, being physically active and avoiding smoking, according to the CDC. These behaviors also help prevent type 2 diabetes and other chronic conditions.

Sunglasses and safety goggles aren’t something to set aside. Serious eye injuries can lead to glaucoma. It is highly recommended to wear eye protection when using power tools or playing sports with high-speed objects either being thrown or hit.

To learn about foods and vitamins that help improve and maintain healthy eyesight, students can visit NDSU’s article Feed Your Eyes to See the Future.

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