By Godwill Arthur-Mensah/Jamila Abubakar
Accra, March 15, GNA - Dr Boateng Wiafe, an Ophthalmologist, has disclosed that vision lost from glaucoma cannot be restored but could be managed with proper treatment regime which would stop further damage to the optic nerve.
He, therefore, urged Ghanaians to undergo regular eye screening and asked people with family history of the disease to check their eyes every two years for early detection.
“Glaucoma is an eye disease that can damage your optic nerve. The optic nerve supplies visual information to your brain from your eyes,” he said.
Dr Wiafe said this at the media launch of this year’s Glaucoma Week Celebration which coincided with the 10th Anniversary of World Glaucoma Association in Accra on Wednesday.
The event was organised by the Glaucoma Association of Ghana (GAG), in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, World Glaucoma Association and Ophthalmological Society of Ghana, aimed at creating public awareness on the disease.
The theme for the celebration is: ‘‘Beat Invisible Glaucoma’’ with the Sub-theme: ‘‘Screen First Degree Relatives’’ to draw attention of people to encourage their relatives to undergo eye screening since glaucoma is genetic.
Dr Wiafe said there were about 700,000 people living with the disease while 60,000 had already gone blind.
He said it had been estimated that by the year 2020, over 76 million people globally, from 40 to 80 years, would be living with the disease.
The eye specialist said that increased pressure in one’s eyes over time could erode the optic nerve tissue which would lead to vision loss.
However, he said, if glaucoma was detected early, one could prevent complete blindness.
Dr Wiafe said a survey conducted in Ghana recently showed that out of every five blind people, one went blind due to glaucoma.
In the developing countries, he said, only 10 per cent of the people had clue about their status.
Dr Wiafe mentioned some risk factors of the disease as family history (genetic), dark-skin people and diabetic patients as well as short-sighted people (myopia), abnormal optic nerve and people who were 40 years and above.
He said the disease did not often show any symptoms and affected persons gradually lost their vision, saying the only way of detecting it was through early eye examination (visual ability test).
Mr Harrison Kofi Abutiate, the National President of the GAG, said about seven million people would be blind from Primary Open Angle Glaucoma (POAG) which is commonly found in Ghana.
‘‘We believe that it is the awareness creation for people to go for eye screening and diagnosis that will enable one to discover his or her status,’’ he said.
The Minister of Health, Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, in a speech read on his behalf, urged corporate entities to support the Glaucoma Association of Ghana in order to intensify public awareness across the country, especially in rural areas.
He asked every Ghanaian to undergo medical check-up for early detection of the disease.
Some activities lined-up for the week include public awareness creation through radio talk shows, in-depth interviews, eye screening of Makola Market women and GPRTU drivers on March 18, as well as visit to some churches to screen their congregation.