Accra, March 18, GNA – Glaucoma is the second cause of blindness in the world, behind cataract.
However, it is the leading cause of irreversible blindness, Dr Boateng Wiafe, Regional Director for Africa, Operation Eye Sight Universal, has said.
An estimated0 600,000 Ghanaians are said to be suffering from Glaucoma.
Dr Wiafe said Ghana has been ranked the second in the World regarding the Glaucoma disease, with Africa having the highest ratio of Glaucoma-to-adult population.
An estimated 8.4 million people worldwide were expected to be bilaterally blind from the disease in 2010. This is, however, expected to increase to 11.1 million by 2020.
Dr Wiafe made this known at the B.K. Glymin, Snr. Memorial Glaucoma Lecture in Accra, at the weekend. The late Glymin founded the Glaucoma Association of Ghana in 1990.
World Glaucoma Day falls on March 12 annually and the theme for this year's event is: “Don't Let Glaucoma Darken Your Life”.
Glaucoma is a condition in which the fluid pressure inside the eye becomes too high, thus causing damage to the optic nerves.
Dr Wiafe said there is a huge number of people with the disease, which has a significant impact on quality of life even when of moderate severity and its irreversibility makes it a major public health problem.
Dr Wiafe noted: “That the actual prevalence of the disease is rising not because the incidence is rising but because the population at risk is increasing because people are living longer.”
He said the key to preventing blindness from the disease was an effective diagnosis and treatment for at-risk patients.
According to experts, the treatment for the disease is a challenge in Sub Saharan Africa, where patients were often undiagnosed or do not have access to affordable care.
He said if detected early enough, the damaging effects of the disease could often be treated with various drugs.
He urged the public to regularly check their eyes, at least once in two years, since early detection is the key.