Ghana has the highest glaucoma cases in Africa, and second-highest cases in the world, the Ghana Optometric Association (GOA) has reported.
“Ghana has an estimated 232,500 who are blind out of which 45,000 are through glaucoma,” Dr Alfred Gardemor, the GOA Public Relations Officer quoted the data from a document from the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness.
In an interview with the Ghana News Agency, Dr Gardemor reported: “Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide and most prevalent in people of African descent. About six million have glaucoma and up to half a million of them are already blind in Africa.
“In most of Africa, only about one in 20 of those with the disease are aware, with over 50 per cent being unilaterally blind on presentation.
“Low awareness of the disease, late presentation/diagnosis and poor adherence to follow-up visits are major challenges to glaucoma management.”
The fortnight initiative is a collaborative public education advocacy campaign to promote the need for people to access eye care and also to draw attention to vision health.
Speaking on the topic: “Glaucoma the silent thief of sight,” Dr Gardemor who is also an optometrist at the Nsawam Government Hospital explained that most glaucoma patients had a genetic basis.
He said in most patients, there was an elevation of intraocular pressure that caused damage to the optic nerve and provoked an early death of the nerve cells that compose it.
He stressed that there was no cure for glaucoma, but early treatment could stop the damage and protect the vision.
“People with glaucoma who manage it well can live a normal and independent life. The big problem with glaucoma is that, in the early stages, people with glaucoma live their lives largely unaffected by the condition while it deteriorates silently,” he added.
The GOA PRO indicated that glaucoma is the silent thief of eyesight and as part of the 2022 World Glaucoma Week celebration in Ghana, “GOA will be raising awareness on Glaucoma and sight preservation adding that, there will be a series of engagement between the public and optometrist across the country.
“The aim is to alert citizenry to have regular eye and optic nerve checks in other to detect glaucoma as early as possible “.