Don’t use traditional treatment methods for glaucoma - Public cautioned

Don’t use traditional treatment methods for glaucoma - Public cautioned

The public has been warned against the use of traditional treatment methods for glaucoma.

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The Chairman of the Glaucoma Working Group of the Ophthalmological Society of Ghana, Dr Charles Mensah Cofie, who issued the warning, emphasised the lack of efficacy and potential harm such traditional treatment posed to patients.

He was speaking in Accra last Wednesday at the launch of the 2024 World Glaucoma Week on the theme: “Uniting for a glaucoma free world”.

Dr Cofie highlighted the misconceptions surrounding traditional remedies, and urged individuals to seek treatment from qualified professionals.

"There is no traditional method of treating glaucoma that has been proven effective," he stated.

Dr Cofie said there was a lack of scientific evidence supporting the use of traditional remedies for glaucoma, explaining that unlike modern medical treatments that underwent rigorous testing and clinical trials, traditional methods often lacked the same level of scrutiny, leading to uncertain outcomes and potential complications.

Dr Cofie, therefore, cautioned against the use of substances that could exacerbate the condition.

"Some traditional medications may contain ingredients that can be harmful to the eyes," he explained, adding that "without proper testing and quality control measures, these substances can cause further damage to the optic nerve and worsen the patient's condition, and this can lead to delayed intervention and irreversible vision loss," he said.

Instead of turning to traditional remedies, Dr Cofie advised glaucoma patients to seek treatment from qualified professionals.

"There are effective medications and interventions available for managing glaucoma," he said.

"It is essential to consult with an eye care specialist who can provide appropriate diagnosis and treatment tailored to the individual's needs," he said.

Glaucoma Week

This year's World Glaucoma Week in Ghana, commemorated between March 10 and 16, 2024, is being organised by the Glaucoma Patient Association of Ghana, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and other partners.

The week-long activities lined up to raise awareness and promote early detection and intervention to prevent blindness caused by the disease include free eye screening at the Trinity United Church at East Legon tomorrow.

The caretaker Minister of Health, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, in a speech read on her behalf by the acting Head of Public Health and Health Promotion Unit at the Ministry of Health, Dr Mavis Sakyi, emphasised the need for collaborative efforts to combat glaucoma, acknowledging the challenge posed by the lack of specialists in the country.

She said the week-long celebration should serve as a rallying call to unite efforts in the fight against glaucoma and ensure that no one lived in fear of losing their vision.

With increased awareness, collaboration and access to quality eye care, she said the vision of a glaucoma-free world could be realised.

“The statistics reveal that one in every five people are blind from glaucoma, highlighting the urgency of the situation.

With over 700,000 people affected in Ghana, the country has the second highest prevalence of glaucoma in Africa, second to Nigeria.

Prices of drugs

The Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, stressed the importance of deepening collaboration to address eye care issues and improve glaucoma care.

That, he said, was important because the chronic and degenerative nature of the disease meant that once vision was lost, it could not be restored.

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Former First Lady, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, who is a patron of the Glaucoma Patient Association of Ghana, emphasised the silent nature of glaucoma, which often went unnoticed until it reached an advanced stage, as she reflected on her personal experience.

he highlighted the financial burden of daily medication and called for reduced prices of treatment drugs to make treatment more accessible.

The National President of the Glaucoma Patient Association of Ghana, Harrison Kofi Abutiate, urged all Ghanaians to prioritise regular eye check-ups, especially those with a family history of glaucoma.

He emphasised the importance of early intervention and the establishment of support groups in healthcare facilities for patients to manage the disease effectively.

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He called for increased public awareness, free screening programmes and tax waivers on glaucoma medication to alleviate the financial burden on patients.

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