Dr. Okwen Marvis Discusses Strategies for Lowering the Prevalence of Glaucoma in Cameroon.
Did you know that glaucoma is the second cause of blindness, and importantly: it is irreversible?
Get tested now and preserve your sight.
It is estimated that around 80 million people have glaucoma worldwide. Approximately 50% of the individuals with glaucoma are unaware that they have the disease, and this number may be even higher in underdeveloped countries. This is because in its early stages, glaucoma is asymptomatic. If untreated, glaucoma may progress to blindness.
In this blog post, Dr Okwen Marvis, ophthalmologist and member of the eBASE board of directors, discusses what can be done to reduce the high prevalence of glaucoma in Cameroon. Before getting there let’s discuss what glaucoma is all about.
Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve of the eye, which is basically the structure that relays what the eye sees to the brain. If untreated, continued damage to the optic nerve may gradually lead to peripheral (side) vision loss - that usually not noticeable until the condition is in its later stages, when finally, visual impairment (noticed as foggy/cloudy vision), and in some cases blindness may occur. (source)
In Cameroon, cases of glaucoma are on the rise. Dr. Okwen Marvis shares some recommandations to strengthen the efforts already undertaken by the Cameroonian government to reduce the prevalence of glaucoma.
Recommendations for glaucoma patients.
- Diagnosed patients should be followed up regularly in the hospital for appropriate evaluation at least once every three months, rather than simply purchasing or refilling medications.
- All family members of diagnosed patients should have their eyes checked.
Recommendation for Health workers.
- Eye examinations should be performed at birth and at postnatal school visits to screen for glaucoma.
- More ophthalmologists to subspecialize in glaucoma.
Recommendations for undiagnosed communities.
- More awareness of eye health (Sensitization in village meetings and community radio stations), urging people to seek regular eye examinations, not only when they have pain or decreased vision.
- Unprescribed eyedrops should be avoided because some can cause glaucoma.
- Avoid traditional eye medication.
- Normal population should check their eyes at least once a year, high risk group (eg persons with diabetes, hypertension, syphilis, toxoplasmosis, HIV, TB, eye injury, eye surgery, Myopia, family history of glaucoma and other eye diseases) should check more frequently (minimum twice a year).
Recommendations for the government
- The government should introduce basic eye health education when training nurses, midwife’s etc
- Teachers should be trained to identify children with visual problems, for early diagnosis and treatment.
- Hospitals should be well equipped and with appropriate Human Resources.
Glaucoma is a silent killer. Spread the word and save someone's sight.