Glaucoma a “silent disease” ─ early screening encouraged

In observance of World Glaucoma Week 2022, members of the public are being encouraged to visit the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation’s (GPHC) eye clinic to receive free eye screening to enable the early detection of glaucoma.

On Thursday, DPI spoke with some glaucoma patients at GPHC, where scores of persons turned out to get tested for the disease.

Glaucoma patient, Daphne Roseman doing her checkup with optometrist, Maritza Persaud.

Daphne Roseman has been living with glaucoma for six years and has been taking her treatment at the hospital. She is encouraging persons to get tested.

“I would like to tell anyone that has glaucoma, come and get tested as early as possible so they can [be] able to see and live a happy life, don’t wait too long,” Roseman said.

Glaucoma patient, Stanley Boucher

Stanley Boucher, who joined the eye clinic about two years ago after he was diagnosed with the disease, said “the only thing is you have to keep using your drops and once you use the drops you would see the results, because it’s a thing that you could stay just so and lose your sight.”

Another patient, Audrey Cole was diagnosed with the eye disease about six years ago. She is also advising persons to get early screening. “Go and checkout your eyes early before it gets too late because you can’t do operation for it,” Cole said.

Glaucoma patient, Audrey Cole

In an invited comment, Consultant Ophthalmologist at the GPHC, Dr. Shailendra Sugrim, highlighted the importance of regular screening for glaucoma as it is a “silent disease.”

“We acknowledge that it’s an important disease that we need to screen and test for on a regular basis because it’s a silent disease, patients are out there with glaucoma without having this knowledge, the only way you can pick it up is when you do regular testing,” Dr. Sugrim noted.

He informed that persons who have relatives with glaucoma, the elderly, persons of African descent and patients with high eye pressures are at a higher risk for the disease.

Consultant Ophthalmologist at the GPHC, Dr. Shailendra Sugrim

“Patients can have permanent blindness if the disease progresses to the advanced stage so the earlier you detect the disease it’s better to save your vision.

Glaucoma management primarily is medical which means they have to get eye drops…so basically, you’re protecting or saving your vision by using these drops regularly. So, we recommend that you use them as prescribed, use them daily and regularly,” the doctor noted.

He added that it is important for persons to have regular follow ups to ensure that the eye drops are effective, if not a physician can assist with changing eye drops or recommending other treatments such as laser or surgery.

Scores of persons turn out to get screened for glaucoma

Meanwhile, Optometrist attached to GPHC, Maritza Persaud said Guyana is most prevalent to open-angle glaucoma, which cannot be recognised in its early stage without testing.

“The scary thing about this is a lot of people don’t know that they have it until it has already progressed to advanced stages whereby, they would’ve start noticing there’s loss to the peripheral vision,” Persaud said.

She said while glaucoma can be treated, it is not curable. She said treatment plans are determined based on the underlying cause of the disease.

Glaucoma week is being observed under the theme, “The world is bright, save your sight.”

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