Guyanese urged to get screened for ‘vision killer’ glaucoma

Numerous Guyanese were on Thursday screened for the silent killer of vision, glaucoma, as part of observances for World Glaucoma Week.

Citizens were offered vision testing, eye pressure testing and eye nerve examinations by ophthalmologists, optometrists and optometry students as the Georgetown Public Hospital in collaboration with several other vison organisations and the ANSA McAL Group of Companies, held a free public screening event for glaucoma on the bottom floor of the Forgarty’s building on Water Street.

Optometrist Antonia McCurchin tests the eye pressure of a patient at Thursday’s Glaucoma Screening event.
Optometrist Antonia McCurchin tests the eye pressure of a patient at Thursday’s Glaucoma Screening event.

The week’s activities were held under the theme “Beat Invisible Glaucoma.”

The ophthalmologist in charge, Dr. Shailendra Sugrim, said that glaucoma often strikes without warning: one day your vision is there, the next it’s gone. He noted that this is the first time such an event has been held in Guyana and the response had been overwhelming.

The efforts were specifically aimed at person who possessed one of the risk factors for glaucoma and had not yet had their eyes tested. These factors include having a family history of glaucoma, being over 60 years of age and being of African ancestry

Dr Sugrim also noted that for the first time, laser treatment for glaucoma will be available in Guyana; previously the majority of glaucoma cases were treated using anti-glaucoma eye drops which would help decrease the eye pressure.

Persons present said that they were encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity to be screened because to them, vision is important and impossible to regain once gone.

Renee Wray, a secondary school student who had been waiting to be screened since early Thursday morning, told Stabroek News that she was anxious to take advantage of the offer since her grandfather had glaucoma and she had been experiencing blurred vision and constant headaches.

Ossie Mason, a 71-year old Afro-Guyanese man, had not checked his eyes in four years and was ready to have what one of the optometrists present termed a suspicious darkening in his eyes further tested.

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