GPHC introducing laser treatment for glaucoma

The Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) yesterday announced that it was introducing laser treatment for Open Angle Glaucoma.

The development coincides with the observance of World Glaucoma Week which runs from March 8 to 14.

A release from the GPHC said that for the first time here, the hospital will be introducing Laser Treatment for Open Angle Glaucoma by a procedure called Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT). The release said that for the past four years the hospital has been providing an enhanced glaucoma service at the Eye Clinic since the addition of a Glaucoma Specialist, Dr. Shailendra Sugrim – who it said was the first Guyanese ophthalmologist to specialize in treating Glaucoma (a variety of disorders that lead to optic nerve damage).

The release said that in Guyanese patients, Open Angle Glaucoma is the most common form of glaucoma. Patients of Afro-Guyanese origin, it said are more prone to develop open angle glaucoma and are more likely to have family members suffering from the disease. It has also been found that glaucoma in Afro-Guyanese patients is usually severe and more difficult to treat.

Over the past years, the release said, patients at the hospital have been exposed to the two common methods of treating open angle glaucoma which are medications (eye drops) and glaucoma surgery. Open angle glaucoma patients will now have a third option for treatment. Laser treatment for glaucoma is not recommended for all patients and hence patients need to be carefully selected by the eye specialist to determine if they meet the criteria for treatment. The release said that this type of treatment is a practical alternative to using drops and success depends on the patient profile and ability to respond to the treatment. It added that those who do not respond to either eye drops or laser treatment may still need to undergo surgery.

The laser equipment can also treat Closed Angle Glaucoma, which is another less common form of glaucoma in Guyana, the release said. The laser machine can also treat posterior capsular opacity which occurs in patients who have previously undergone cataract surgery.

Screening

This year, the hospital in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, the Guyana Vision 2020 Committee, EyeCare Guyana, the Guyana Optometrists Association and the ANSA McAl Group of Companies will be hosting a Grand Glaucoma Screening Exercise – Check your eyes for Glaucoma – on Thursday, March 12 at Fogarty’s Ground Floor from 10:00 hrs to 15:00 hrs. The release said that ophthalmologists, optometrists, nurses and optometry students will be present at a booth to screen members of the public. Vision testing, eye pressure testing and examination of the eye nerve will be done.

The GPHC’s Department of Ophthalmology offers services for diagnosing and treating glaucoma. The hospital offers daily eye clinics on weekdays. Patients need to be referred to the hospital before they can obtain an appointment for these services, the release said. These referrals can be obtained from their general physicians.

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