The World is Bright, Save your Sight!
March 7th to 13th is World Glaucoma Awareness Week 2021 and aims to raise awareness on glaucoma and effect it has on your sight with the 2021 theme 'The World is Bright, Save your Sight!
Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that are caused by damage to the optic nerve. The optic nerve is very important as it carries sight images to the brain. The optic nerve can be damaged by too much pressure inside the eye. Though glaucoma can be treated (if diagnosed early) to prevent blindness, the condition can't be cured. To maintain a constant healthy eye pressure, the eye continually produces a small amount of this fluid and an equal amount which flows out of the eye. If you have glaucoma, the fluid does not flow properly through the drainage system. Fluid pressure in the eye increases and this extra force presses on the optic nerve in the back of the eye, causing damage to the nerve fibers. Glaucoma is an extremely serious eye disorder which can cause blindness if not treated early
As with many eye and vision problems Glaucoma has no obvious early signs or symptoms, therefore people are often unaware of the problem. Visible symptoms only occur after the nerve fibers have been irreversibly damaged and permanent vision impairment occurs. According to Dr Wim Schoonbee, Opthalmic Medical Officer for the Overberg, “Glaucoma is normally associated with age and family history, people over the age of 45 with a family history should ensure that they have their eye pressure and visual fields tested biannually, often people assume their eyes and vision are still in good condition because they can still read but they are not aware that their visual fields are still shrinking.” “If you have experienced any form of eye injury or blunt trauma to the eye it is also important to have your eye pressure and visual fields regularly after injury took place” says Dr Schoonbee.
When diagnosed with glaucoma, ongoing management is required to reduce the risk of further progression through a number of possible treatment options including therapeutic eye drops, surgery, or a combination of these. The most common treatment is the eye drops which assists in relieving the pressure in the eye.
For Sister (Sr) Alinda Otto, a clinical nurse practitioner working in ophthalmology in the Overberg, general eye health from an early age is essential. “My biggest tip is to reduce your screen time, especially for children under the age of six whose eyes are still developing, it may be a form of easy entertainment but will affect their far sighted vision and have other effects at an older age”
Anybody who experiences sudden loss of vision, decrease in vision, blurry vision, formation of halos around lights, difficulty focusing on distant or near objects should visit their nearest health facility immediately for an eye test. “ You need to respect the importance of your sight, if you experience any trauma to the eye which can occur during a physical fight or an accident please have your eye checked, do not wait until it is too late” says Sr Otto. Early detection of Glaucoma and medication compliance can prevent blindness.
Western Cape Government Health
Overberg District Office, Caledon
Tel: 084 216 5796