A Consultant Optometrist, Dr. Veronica Akuete, has warned that the cases of glaucoma patients are on the increase in the country, NAN.
Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness. Moreover, among African American and Latino populations, glaucoma is more prevalent.
“There are likely to be more cases, because of low awareness about the disease that causes irreversible blindness. “Studies have shown that we have 16.7 per cent prevalence of glaucoma in Nigeria – Dr. Veronica.
During the 2018 World Glaucoma Week, themed “Green – Go get your eyes tested for Glaucoma: Save Your Sight!’’Akuete said glaucoma is a ‘silent blinder’, a disease that causes blindness without prior warning to the patient.
Dr. Veronica explained that the normal eye pressure is between 10 to 21mm mercury but any pressure above 24mm is high. She said that a high intraocular pressure doesn’t mean an individual has glaucoma but is more likely at risk.
What is Glaucoma?
According to MedicineNet, Glaucoma is a disease of the major nerve of vision, called the optic nerve. The optic nerve receives light-generated nerve impulses from the retina and transmits these to the brain, where we recognize those electrical signals as vision. Glaucoma is characterized by a particular pattern of progressive damage to the optic nerve that generally begins with a subtle loss of side vision (peripheral vision). If glaucoma is not diagnosed and treated, it can progress to loss of central vision and blindness.
Glaucoma is usually, but not always, associated with elevated pressure in the eye (intraocular pressure). Generally, it is this elevated eye pressure that leads to damage of the eye (optic) nerve. In some cases, glaucoma may occur in the presence of normal eye pressure. This form of glaucoma is believed to be caused by poor regulation of blood flow to the optic nerve.
The most common type of glaucoma (open-angle glaucoma) often has no symptoms other than slow vision loss. Angle-closure glaucoma, although rare, is a medical emergency and its symptoms include eye pain with nausea and sudden visual disturbance.
Who is at risk
- Those with family history of blindness or glaucoma
- People with Diabetes
- Those over 40 years
Treatment includes eye drops, medication and surgery.
“I always tell people, ‘please if one person has been blind in your family make sure you go for an eye test to screen for glaucoma. She said it would help them know what she referred to as their ‘G-Status’.
She also urged people to maintain a healthy lifestyle, eat lot of fruits and vegetables, particularly those rich in beta carotene.
Akuete called on Health Management Organizations (HMOs) and governments to help make screening and treatment for glaucoma accessible to more people.
“Most of our hospitals are not equipped for glaucoma screening, Dr. Veronica
“The government can partner with both private and public sector. They can decide to equip them with glaucoma screening equipment and subsidize it, so the masses can afford it.