Saint Lucia Blind Welfare Association observes World Glaucoma Week

Saint Lucia Blind Welfare Association observes World Glaucoma Week

(PRESS RELEASE) — The Saint Lucia Blind Welfare Association (SLBWA) joins the rest of the world in commemorating World Glaucoma Week, March 10-16, 2019.

SLBWA cannot put enough emphasis on being vigilant about this blinding eye disease before its too late. To encourage persons to get comprehensive eye examinations, Eye Care St. Lucia, SLBWA’s eye clinic, will be giving eye examinations for only $60.00 on Thursday, March 14, 2019, at SLBWA building in Sans Souci.

This year the theme is ‘Green = Go get your eyes tested for Glaucoma: Save Your Sight!’

Globally, glaucoma is the leading preventable cause of irreversible blindness: by 2040 over 110 million people will have glaucoma. Regular eye exams are the best way to prevent significant glaucoma damage, hence the World Glaucoma Association (WGA) and the World Glaucoma Patient Association (WGPA), launching their ‘Green = Go get your eyes tested for Glaucoma: Save Your Sight!’ awareness campaign for World Glaucoma Week 2019 (WGW).

Save Your Sight!

Consider: glaucoma progressively damages vision without warning until late; treatment can effectively arrest the disease, but it cannot reverse damage already present. The earlier the diagnosis, the less damage done, the more vision there is to save. Activities during World Glaucoma Week alerts people globally to have regular eye (and optic nerve) checks to detect glaucoma earlier, to save their sight.

Green = Go

Why the color green for this campaign? “Glaucoma” originates from the ancient Greek ‘glaukos’ meaning clouded or blue-green haze. In Germany, glaucoma is ‘Grüne Star’ and in Japan it literally means ‘green-colored intraocular illness’. Green is also “progress” – we give a project the ‘green light’ and cross the street with a green light. We want to achieve the same with eye exams: GO!

1 Global prevalence of glaucoma and projections of glaucoma burden through 2040: a systematic review and meta-analysis, by Tham YC, Li X, Wong TY, Quigley HA, Aung T, Cheng CY (Ophthalmology 2014;121:2081-90)

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that cause progressive damage of the optic nerve at the point where it leaves the eye to carry visual information to the brain.

What can you do to prevent glaucoma?

Currently, regular eye exams are the best prevention against significant glaucoma damage. Early detection and careful, lifelong treatment can maintain vision in most people. In general, a check for glaucoma should be done:

∙ before age 40, every two to four years
∙ from age 40 to age 60, every two to three years
∙ after age 60, every one to two years

Anyone with high-risk factors should be tested every year or two after age 35. Those at higher risk include people of African descent, people with a family history of glaucoma, people with various conditions (e,g, diabetes, sleep apnea, high or low blood pressure, migraine). You are at 10x increased risk if you have a parent or brother or sister with glaucoma.

Timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment are key to glaucoma prevention

While there are no known ways to prevent glaucoma, blindness or significant vision loss from glaucoma can be avoided if the disease is recognized and treated early. Most commonly in glaucoma, vision loss is silent and progressive. It typically affects side vision first (peripheral vision) and as it progresses, central vision is lost. Glaucoma medications slow the progression of glaucoma by reducing intraocular pressure (IOP) to prevent damage to the optic nerve. Surgical and laser treatments are also available.

Benefits of exercise

A regular program of moderate exercise will benefit your overall health, and moderate exercise such as walking or jogging three or more times every week can lower IOP. The benefits from exercise last only as long as you continue exercising; this is why moderate exercise routinely is recommended. Yoga can be beneficial, but avoid inverted positions such as head and shoulder stands and “doggie down”, as these increase IOP.

Protect your eyes

Wearing protective eye-wear when engaged in sports activities or home improvement projects. Eye injuries can be devastating and also can result in traumatic glaucoma even decades after the injury, so protecting your eyes is another way to prevent glaucoma.

Article by Robert L. Stamper, MD, Distinguished Professor of Clinical Ophthalmology and Director Emeritus of the Glaucoma Service at University of California San Francisco and Ivan Goldberg FRANZCO, Head, Glaucoma Unit, Sydney Eye Hospital and Clinical Professor in the Discipline of Ophthalmology, University of Sydney



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