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Indian Express
09 March 2011
Chandigarh, India

EVERY month, around 1,200–1,300 patients suffering from glaucoma visit the PGIMER’s advanced eye clinic and the number is on the rise. On the World Glaucoma Week (WGW) – from March 6 to 12 – doctors at PGI maintain that if one suffers from this disease – mostly known as silent thief of sight – one should get his family checked for it as well.

Recently, the Union Department
of Biotechnology has granted Rs 32 lakh to PGI to conduct a study on the varying results of surgeries in children suffering from congenital glaucoma. The project has been granted to Dr Sushmita Kaushik and Dr S S Pandav, after a study conducted on children suffering from the disease from birth showed that results varied after treatment.

"While some responded well to the treatment, a few others did not respond at all. We should find out the genetic basis of this disease" said Kaushik – the principal investigator in this study. She will be accompanied by Pandav and Dr Mani Luthra in studying the genes of around 60 to 70 children suffering from congenital glaucoma.

This year’s WGW theme is "Don’t Lose Sight of Your Family". The theme is designed to remind patients that if one member of the family gets diagnosed with glaucoma, the risk of other family members also developing the same increases several times.

This disease damages the optic nerve – the "cable" that connects the eye to the brain.

"If left untreated or inadequately treated, the disease can gradually leave only small central areas of vision. The portion visible through the tube is clear but the surrounding areas are not visible," said Pandav.

"In fact, almost 90 per cent patients are not diagnosed in time. Over 11 million people in India alone suffer from this disease – most of its types are asymptomatic in the early stages," said Kaushik.

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