In the United States, this month was National Glaucoma Month. According to the National Eye Institute more than four million people in the United States have glaucoma. Glaucoma is a class of eye diseases that gradually cause vision loss without any warning. It is often referred to as the “sneak thief of sight”, because many individuals do not even know that they have it. We tend to associate glaucoma with the aging process and consider it an older person’s disease. But did you know that glaucoma can also impact children?
The disease is associated with increased pressure within the eye which leads to damage to the optic nerve. This first causes the loss of peripheral vision (leading to tunnel vision), and if left untreated it eventually will result in blindness. While it cannot be cured, with regular eye exams, glaucoma can be detected early and treated to slow down vision loss.
In 2010, two-month-old baby Daffa was one of many patients screened at an ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital program in Jakarta, Indonesia. When Daffa was brought into the examination room, ORBIS staff were immediately captivated by his huge, beautiful eyes, but they also noticed something else—his eyes looked cloudy.
Clouding of the cornea, the transparent front part of the eye which covers the iris and pupil, is one of the hallmarks of pediatric glaucoma. Daffa was lucky—visiting the ORBIS program meant that he could undergo a surgical procedure to correct his glaucoma. Without this surgery, he almost certainly would have become blind.
After the procedure, Daffa continued to undergo checks with the local eye disease experts trained by ORBIS to make sure his glaucoma did not return. Today, Daffa is a healthy, happy two-year-old boy who is discovering the beauty of the world around him. Watch this short video of our update visit to Daffa in 2012 and see how his sight was saved.