Dominica joins the rest of the world this week in the annual observance of ‘World Glaucoma Week’ which is being observed in order to increase awareness about the Glaucoma disease from March 6-12.
World Glaucoma Week is a joint initiative between the World Glaucoma Association and the World Glaucoma Patient Association in an effort to eliminating blindness resulting in Glaucoma.
In an address, Minister of Health and Environment, Dr. Kenneth Darroux said his ministry together with the entire government recognizes the importance of Glaucoma as the leading cause of irreversible blindness.
According to him Glaucoma can be described as, “a group of eye diseases which causes progressive optic nerve damages resulting in the gradual loss of vision.”
He said this loss first affect the peripheral vision then the reading vision.
“Glaucoma patients do not have any symptoms of the disease until it has caused advance loss of vision,” Dr. Darroux stated. “It is also important to note that the loss of vision and blindness from Glaucoma is permanent…it cannot be reversed, and while it cannot be cured it can definitely be controlled making it imperative that the detection, diagnosis and management in a timely manner.”
He stated further that it is estimated that 50 percent of people who suffer from Glaucoma are not aware, resulting in about 9 million people in the world who are clinically blind from the disease.
“All efforts must be spared to reduce the incident of blindness from Glaucoma, and we all must be involved in the early detection diagnosis and management of the disease,” he advised.
Dr. Darroux pointed out that early detection and adherence to treatment to lower the intraocular pressure is one of the main strategies needed to reduce blindness from Glaucoma, “ and in order to maximize the effectiveness of this strategy one must target those at risk, mainly over the age of 40 years and the relatives of people already diagnose with open angle Glaucoma.”
He noted also that a number of eye services are available on the island through the healthcare system, “to enhance affordability, availability and accessibility for screening and treatment for Glaucoma.”
He also highlighted a few ways to help reduce the incident of blindness and Glaucoma.
-Having regular eye exams especially after the age of 40
-Patients diagnosed with Glaucoma should inform their relatives especially close ones, so these relatives in turn can have their eyes examined every year from the age of 35.
-Glaucoma patients using their medication as prescribed and keeping their appointments
People-helping-people (relatives, friends, neighbours and caretakers of elderly Glaucoma patients helping in the management of their Glaucoma).
The eye team during its schedule eye clinic will be hosting an exhibition on Glaucoma at the St Joseph Health Centre on Thursday, March 10, 2016 from 9:00am
“We are therefore encouraging everybody within and in the vicinity of the St Joseph Health District to get involved to learn more about Glaucoma,” he encouraged.
In addition, he noted that a number of radio talk shows will be hosted during the week to inform the general public about Glaucoma.
“We will continue to provide the resources for regular comprehensive eye care including treatment for Glaucoma,” Dr. Darroux said.
He added, “We look forward to the further enhancement of these services when our new National Hospital is commissioned.”
World Glaucoma Week is being observed under the theme: “Prevent Blindness from Glaucoma, Get Involved.”