Glaucoma cases need significant attention – Optometrists Association
Dr Alfred Gardemor, a Senior Optometrist at the Nsawam Government Hospital, says glaucoma needs to receive significant attention as it is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in Ghana and globally.
“The total number of blind people in Ghana is estimated to be about 232,500, of which as high as 45,000 are through glaucoma and about half a million people, aged 40 years and above, live with glaucoma in Ghana,” he said.
Dr Gardemor, also the Public Relations Officer of the Ghana Optometric Association (GOA), said this at the Ghana News Agency and the Ghana Optometric Association fortnight public sensitisation, dubbed: “GNA-GOA: My Eye! My Vision!’’.
The initiative is a collaborative public education campaign to draw attention to vision health and ensure the public access eye care regularly.
It also seeks to challenge the public and policymakers to focus on vision as a health issue, which forms a critical component of man’s wellbeing but often neglected.
Dr Gardemor, therefore, called for collaborative effort towards reviewing available eye care policy for glaucoma to reduce its high prevalence in the country.
He urged the Ministry of Health to lead in ensuring that the needed glaucoma management policy was put in place to encourage all relevant professionals in the management process to work towards changing the narrative.
The collaboration must cover rehabilitative care, training, and deployment of more ophthalmologists, optometrists, and ophthalmic nurses to help in the fight against blindness due to glaucoma, he said.
Dr Gardemor called for the training of more eye care professionals as Ghana had just a little over 100 ophthalmologists and 300 optometrists with a larger number of them in the private sector.
He said everybody was at risk of glaucoma, especially those above 40 years and having a family history of blindness, those with medical conditions such as diabetes and or hypertension, as well as people with abnormally high eye pressure (intraocular pressures).
Glaucoma, he said, was a common eye disease that was a leading cause of irreversible blindness if left undiagnosed and untreated, as it damaged the optic nerve, essential for good vision as a result of abnormally elevated eye pressures.
Dr Gardemor mentioned the two major types of glaucoma as the Angle Closure Glaucoma (a medical emergency that includes severe pain, nausea, and sudden reduction in vision), and Open-Angle Glaucoma, which is the commonest.
The open-angle type also has minimal or close to no symptoms although it leads to slow vision loss, making it earn the name the “Silent thief of sight.”
Mr Francis Ameyibor, the Tema Regional Manager, GNA, said: “We are combining the forces of our professional calling as optometric physicians and communication experts to reach out to the public with a well-coordinated message.”
“We believe such collaboration would serve as a major platform to educate the
public on vision health,” he said.