Mar 04, 2016 News
-as World Glaucoma Week is observed
With free glaucoma screening sessions for members of the public, the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) will be observing World Glaucoma Week (WGW).
The World Glaucoma Association and World Glaucoma Patient Association has designated March 6 to 12, 2016 as WGW.
For the past five years, the hospital has been offering an enhanced glaucoma service at its Eye Clinic. But as part of the WGW 2016 observances, the hospital will be involved in the free screening sessions in addition to the launch of a Glaucoma Poster.
In collaboration with Ansa McAl Group of Companies, the Glaucoma Poster will be launched. The aim of the poster is to aid in public awareness about the disease, and to encourage persons at risk to undergo screening.
The poster will be launched on Monday at the Eye Clinic at 12:00hrs. The Minister of Public Health, Dr. George Norton, along with representatives of Ansa McAl will be present to officially launch the poster. This poster will be placed at various locations across the country.
The GPHC will be collaborating with the Public Health Ministry, the Guyana Vision 2020 Committee to offer daily screening sessions from Monday March 7 to Friday March 11, between 12:00 and 15:00 hours. However, this service will only be availed to members of the public on an appointment basis, according to a statement issued by the GPHC.
Appointments can be made at the Eye Clinic Clerical Desk from 9:00 to 14:00 hours before Monday March 7, 2016 or by sending email to [email protected] Emails should state clearly patients’ name, age, gender, address and preferred day of screening.
Eligible individuals for screening will include: all Individuals who are 40 years or older; individuals below 40 years are invited, only if persons have risk factors such as persons with blood relatives diagnosed with glaucoma, persons of African descent; if you have already been diagnosed with glaucoma you are not eligible for screening and glaucoma suspects are eligible for screening.
Vision testing, eye pressure testing and examination of the eye nerve will be done by the Ministry, and according to the statement the staff ophthalmologists will be screening 50 patients per day.
In Guyanese patients, Open Angle Glaucoma is the most common form of glaucoma. Patients of Afro-Guyanese origin are more prone to develop open angle glaucoma, and are more likely to have family members suffering from glaucoma. It has also been found that glaucoma in Afro-Guyanese patients is usually very severe and more difficult to treat.
There are many ways to treat open angle glaucoma. Over the past years, patients at the hospital have been exposed to the two common methods of treating glaucoma which are medications (eye-drops) and glaucoma surgery.
Last year for World Glaucoma Week, the hospital launched its Laser Treatment for Glaucoma which included Laser Trabeculoplasty (Open Angle) and Laser Peripheral Iridotomy (Closed Angle). With the addition of laser treatment, open angle glaucoma patients now have a third option for treatment at the institution.
Laser treatment for glaucoma is not indicated for all patients and hence patients need to be carefully selected by the Glaucoma Specialist to determine if they meet the criteria for treatment. This type of treatment is a practical alternative to using drops and success depends on the patient profile and ability to respond to the treatment. Those who do not respond to either eye drops or laser treatment may still eventually need to undergo surgery.
The theme for this WGW observance worldwide campaign continues from last year which is: ‘B-I-G – Beat Invisible Glaucoma’. This campaign was chosen because of the fact that many people suffer with glaucoma and they still do not know it.
It’s called “invisible” glaucoma because the disease acts silently by causing damage to the optic nerve (the eye nerve which allows us to see the world) without the patient having any notable symptoms. Hence, bit by bit over the years this damage continues, unknown to the patient, until almost the entire nerve is destroyed.
This nerve damage (called glaucomatous optic neuropathy) is permanent and cannot be reversed. Hence, at that time when the patient begins to start experiencing visual symptoms, they would already have had significant nerve damage thus the need for early screening of the disease.
Once glaucoma is diagnosed early, treatment can be started early, and hence prevent persons from becoming unnecessarily blind. Glaucoma can be controlled with treatment so that patients can enjoy comfortable vision throughout their life.
At the GPHC, the Department of Ophthalmology offers services for diagnosing and treating Glaucoma. The hospital offers daily eye clinics on weekdays where patients can be given eye examinations for the detection of Glaucoma. Patients need to be referred to the hospital before they can obtain an appointment for any service. These referrals can be obtained from their general physicians.
According to Dr. Shailendra Sugrim, Head of Department and Glaucoma Specialist at the GPHC, last year in observance of WGW, approximately 350 patients were screened for glaucoma through a collaborative effort by ophthalmologists, optometrists, nurses and optometry students. That was the first time that such a screening exercise focusing on Glaucoma was held and the public response was overwhelming. This is the reason why this year, the exercise will be done in a controlled manner at the hospital and only by appointment.
Persons can contact Dr. Sugrim at [email protected] or mobile number 592-600-0181 for more information.
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