Consultant Ophthalmologist, Dr. Hazel Shillingford-Ricketts, is making a case for older drivers to get eye exams since there are many who are nearly blind and putting the lives of many people at risk.
She made the remarks while delivering a presentation on the observation of World Glaucoma Week at the Grand Bay Heath Center on Thursday.
“It is very important, because if we look at the diseases that cause people to go blind, they become more prevalent when they get older,” she noted.
According to her, when someone in their early 20’s goes for a driver’s license, most likely they have normal vision.
“They will be good to drive but when they reach age 50 they may have developed glaucoma, cataract …they may develop diabetes or diabetic retinopathy, and you will not know,” she said.
She argues that it is important for older drivers to get eye exams in order to be ensure “their vision is safe for them to drive on the road.”
Meantime, Shillingford-Ricketts is arguing that glaucoma medication should be made readily available to patients at no cost.
She pointed out that patients may have to use medication for life and at this point most of them are not available in the government formulary.
“So the patients have to buy it, and they can only access it in private pharmacies or at the hospital,” she stated.
She remarked that those living in the country areas have to make their way to Roseau to buy the medication, which in many cases is not readily available, and in most cases they cannot even afford it.
“And these impacts on how well the patients can use their medications, because if they do not have money to buy it, or cannot get to buy it they will be without it and their disease will be uncontrolled,” she said. ““I am asking all other medication for the Chronic Non-Communicable diseases that we provide those medications free of charge for the patients.”
Dr. Shillingford-Ricketts noted that the majority of glaucoma cases are in the 80-year range with 25 percent affected.
When asked whether the public awareness campaign of the disease is hitting its mark, Shillingford-Ricketts responded that it was and during the time it began that more people started having their eyes tested or seeking information.