Premier Zille Helps Raise Awareness for World Glaucoma Week (11-17 March)
On Monday, 12 March, Premier Helen Zille underwent a glaucoma test in order to help raise public awareness for World Glaucoma Week, which is running until 17 March. The theme for Glaucoma Week in 2012 is "Don't Let Glaucoma Darken Your Life", as decided by the World Glaucoma Association.
Glaucoma is a chronic progressive eye disease causing structural and functional damage of the optic nerve. It is the second most common cause of blindness worldwide after cataracts. There is no cure for glaucoma and vision loss is irreversible. However, medication or surgery (traditional or laser) can halt or slow down any further vision loss. If detected early, glaucoma can be treated adequately with medication (eye drops) or surgery (traditional or laser) to halt or slow down any further vision loss and prevent blindness.
Premier Zille emphasised the recommendation by doctors that people between 40 and 50 years of age should be tested every two years for symptoms of glaucoma, people between 50 and 60 should be tested every year and a half and people over 60 should have an eye pressure test every year. Due to the silent progression of the disease, up to 50% of affected persons in developed countries and up to 90% in developing countries are not even aware of having glaucoma, especially when it is still in its early stages. "Many people do not know about glaucoma until it is too late and it can cause blindness if not picked up early," she said.
Public awareness and encouraging regular health check-ups are crucial elements in the Western Cape Government's overall strategy to promote wellness and disease prevention in the province. If citizens are proactive in looking after their health, it will enhance the efforts of government to provide optimal healthcare thus helping to make the state of public health and wellness better together. For further information, visit the Glaucoma Awareness Week website: http://www.wgweek.net/