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Glaucoma is the third leading cause of blindness in the world. Vision loss caused by damage to the optic nerve cannot be reversed either through treatment or surgery.
In Ghana, most people are unaware of this eye disease contributing to the rise in glaucoma cases. According to reports, over 700,000 Ghanaians are living with glaucoma with 250,000 of them not being aware they have it.
Most patients report to the various eye- center facilities with open-angle glaucoma, the commonest in the country. Those with this condition do not notice a change in their vision at first because the initial loss of vision is of peripheral vision, one only gets to find out when it has advanced.
World Glaucoma Week is celebrated from March 8 to 14 to raise awareness about the condition. The global week celebration also seeks to promote eye health as part of measures to reduce blindness from glaucoma.
An Optometrist at the HealthNet Medical Centre, Doctor Bismarck Mensah, says regular eye check is the surest way to detect glaucoma in its early stages. He advised the public to visit an eye-care facility to get their eyes screened at least twice every year.
“Go for regular eye checkups, it should be part of your medical routines. You should at least check your eyes twice every year, that will help. If there is any change or any signs, we give you the warnings and then we pick up the condition as early as possible,” Doctor Bismarck Mensah told GhanaWeb in an interview on March 12, 2020.
Primary open-angle glaucoma is also hereditary. People with a family history of the disease are of a high risk of contracting it. It is therefore advisable to undergo a comprehensive dilated eye exam twice every year for early diagnoses.
“One of the risk factors is having a family member who has glaucoma. It is inherited, it runs in the family, if your family member has glaucoma whether nuclear or extended you should go to the hospital and have your eyes checked,” says Dr. Bismarck Mensah.
Glaucoma often called "the sneak thief of sight", has no symptoms until significant vision loss has occurred. Late symptoms of the disease include reddening of the eye, severe eye pain, blurred vision among others.
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