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Glaucoma: Silent ‘thief’ of sight

BY: Joshua Bediako Koomson
Dr Haryana Yakubu Zato, Optometrist, LeKMA Hospital screening a resident.  Picture: BENEDICT OBUOBI
Dr Haryana Yakubu Zato, Optometrist, LeKMA Hospital screening a resident. Picture: BENEDICT OBUOBI

GLAUCOMA, also known as the silent thief of sight, is a disease which makes the eye go blind with no warning signs. The signs only show at the last stage of the disease. It is also the second leading cause of blindness after cataract.

Untreated glaucoma results in blindness because of the irreversible damage it causes.

According to the President of the Ophthalmological Society of Ghana (OSG), Dr Michael Gyasi, “Glaucoma is a disease that has no symptoms at the early stages and when the symptoms start showing, that is the moment nothing can be done about it, this is the reason why people need to go for regular eye screening to make sure even if they get infected, they could be detected at the early stage and treated.”

He said Ghana was one of the highest ranking countries in the world affected with glaucoma and over 700,000 Ghanaians were living with the disease.

He stated this on Monday (March 11) in Accra when the OSG organised a free eye screening at the Ledzokuku Municipal Assembly (LeKMA) Hospital as part of activities marking the Glaucoma Week celebration.

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This year’s World Glaucoma Week is scheduled for March 11 to 16 and the OSG is collaborating with the Glaucoma Association of Ghana (GAG) and the Ministry of Health (MoH) to celebrate the week with free glaucoma screening and free public education to highlight the importance of getting an early disease detection and treatment.

Blindness

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Dr Gyasi further disclosed that the disease accounted for over 19 per cent of all cases of blindness in the country indicating that it was the most important cause of permanent blindness in Ghana.

He explained that the disease was caused by damage to the nerves which connected the brain to the eye, pointing out that this damage was caused by pressure on the nerve which resulted in the human vision gradually fading away.

According to him, the disease was hereditary and could also be transferred from one parent to his or her offspring, hence the need for people to go for regular check-ups.

Glaucoma Week

An Ophthalmologist at the LeKMA Hospital, Dr Aseye Aidam, said they would organise free eye screening at the LeKMA Hospital for about 300 people, adding that on Thursday, March 14, the screening would be taken to the Medical Reception Centre at the Burma Camp and also to the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital with the climax taking place at the Accra Regional Hospital on March 15.

Awareness creation

Secretary of OSG, Dr Dziffa Ofori-Adjei, advised that more attention needed to be given to the disease to help deal with its eradication.