This is World Glaucoma Week (10 to 16 March) and the Ophthalmology Department of the Costa del Sol Hospital has been playing its part in raising awareness of glaucoma by setting up an information stand at the main entrance to the hospital.
The stand is being manned by ophthalmologists, nurses and auxiliaries to make people more aware of the importance of this type of eye problem and, especially, the fact that early detection is vital. As well giving leaflets out to people, they are carrying out eye pressure tests for everyone who requests one.
There are also videos to explain how glaucoma affects people's sight, and these have been screened simultaneously on all the TV screens in the communal areas of the hospital this week.
The High Resolution Specialist Hospital in Benalmádena and the High Resolution Specialist Centre in Mijas have also screened the videos, to raise awareness among their patients.
Staff from the Glaucoma Unit at the hospital in Marbella, which is part of the Ophthalmology Department, decided to raise awareness of the problem because they say people need to realise how important it is to detect glaucoma early. This can slow down its rate of progress and the damage it causes which, once it occurs, cannot be reversed.
Prevention of glaucoma in general is based on informative campaigns such as this one, and this is the fifth consecutive year that the unit at the Costa del Sol hospital has participated.
Glaucoma is a chronic and progressive illness of the optic nerve which produces alternations in the field of vision. Although there are no treatments to cure it, it can be controlled. If, however, it is not treated, it will get worse, seriously alter visual function and can even lead to blindness.
The main problem with glaucoma is that a high percentage of people do suffer from it but are unaware of the fact because it has never been diagnosed. No symptoms occur until the damage to the field of vision is already very advanced.
It has also been shown that patients who have slight or moderate glaucoma may already find that some activities, such as reading or driving, are affected.
Check-ups are recommended from the age of 40, especially for those with risk factors such as family members who have suffered from glaucoma or those who have medium or high myopia. The Glaucoma Unit at the Costa del Sol hospital in Marbella sees more than 6,000 patients every year, about 15 per cent of the total in the Ophthalmology Department.