13 March 2018

South Africa: Gauteng Health Commemorates World Glaucoma Week, 11 to 17 Mar

press release

As part of ongoing initiatives to create awareness on eye care and to reduce the number of people that go blind due to avoidable causes, the Gauteng Department of Health will host a marathon of activities in commemoration of World Glaucoma Week.

The week, running from 11-17 March 2018 aims to educate people on the importance of eye care, regular eye testing and preventative care.

In the previous financial year, a total of 678 glaucoma surgeries were done: 597 were adults and 61 children.

Glaucoma is a group of diseases that result in damage to the eye's optic nerve. Glaucoma is generally related to a high eye pressure. Damage to the optic nerve initially results in a decreased vision and may eventually lead to blindness.

"In its early stages, glaucoma usually has no symptoms, which is what makes it so dangerous -- by the time you notice problems with your sight, the disease has progressed to the point that irreversible vision loss has already occurred and additional loss may be difficult to stop, advised MEC Gwen Ramokgopa.

Glaucoma occurs in people of all ages, from children to older adults. It is more likely to develop in people who are over 35 year's old, very near-sighted, diabetic, an enlarged cataract and or eye disease. It may also be inherited, as relatives of glaucoma patients are more likely to develop glaucoma themselves.

"Vision lost as a result of glaucoma usually cannot be recovered. Early diagnosis and careful, lifelong treatment can help prevent further visual damage. If you have been diagnosed with glaucoma, ensure you use your medications correctly. See your eye surgeon in order to monitor the disease, added MEC Ramokgopa.

Elevated intraocular pressure is considered the most important risk factor. However, glaucoma may occur even with normal reading. A disturbed vascular regulation of the vessels supplying blood to the optic nerve head in the eye can result in glaucoma. People with low blood pressure or general circulatory disturbances are particularly at risk .A history of glaucoma in the family requires regular examinations at all ages, not just from the age of 40 onwards.

"Have your eyes tested every second year. Early detection, correct medication and proper management will prevent blindness due to glaucoma, concluded MEC Ramokgopa.

Issued by: Gauteng Health

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