Science and Environment

The worldwide fight vs glaucoma

- The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Is the Philippines alone in the fight against glaucoma?

Definitely not. With the close of World Glaucoma Week 2012 themed “Don’t let glaucoma darken your life!” the Philippines joins over 120 countries worldwide to stop glaucoma in its tracks.

“Glaucoma is a leading cause of permanent blindness in the world. Countries all over the world are well aware of the terrible repercussion of this disease. We join them in the fight to rid the Philippines, and ultimately the world, of the incurable blindness caused by glaucoma,” said Dr. Biboy Martinez, vice president of the Philippine Glaucoma Society, the recognized association of glaucoma specialists in the country.

World Glaucoma Week is a worldwide celebration spearheaded by the joint forces of the World Glaucoma Patient Association (WGPA) and the World Glaucoma Association (WGA). It was held last March 11-17 and has been celebrated since 2008.

The WGPA began the world umbrella organization of glaucoma patient support groups that seek to provide solace for other patients worldwide. It organizes patient support groups in every country who will benefit not only from personal care but also from other patients who understand their plights.

The World Glaucoma Association brings to the table a world organization to unite “glaucoma fighters” in their mission to end glaucoma existence. The Philippine Glaucoma Society represents the country in this worldwide consortium.

In many countries, awareness of the severity of glaucoma has been the focus. Glaucoma is the “sneak thief of the sight.” Many patients are not even aware that they already have glaucoma. They will only find out until glaucoma has already severely damaged vision.

In Australia, over 300,000 suffer from some form of glaucoma. Half of them are not even aware of it. Most cases are detected only after permanent loss of vision has occurred. A very active glaucoma patient association has been established in this country.

In Congo, eye experts raised awareness in their communities through displaying of banners showing messages on glaucoma, broadcasting short messages and information on glaucoma by radio and television and distributing leaflets with information on glaucoma to the population.

A free glaucoma screening for patients aged over 40 was also conducted and glaucoma treatment subsidies were distributed to chosen patients in lieu of the celebration.

In Ghana, a press launch, free public eye screening and a public forum were organized by local glaucoma organizations to promote awareness of the disease that is a major cause of visual impairment of its citizens.

India is also well aware of the damage done by glaucoma. Up to 12 percent of the all blindness in India is caused by glaucoma. Eye experts in India also agree that glaucoma can only be stopped through early detection. Awareness campaigns have been launched to do just that.

Local activities

In the Philippines, the Philippine Glaucoma Society in partnership with Allergan launched a series of campaigns and activities to spread the word on the fight against glaucoma.

A nationwide screening and glaucoma forum was held in over 63 participating hospitals and health centers in Metro Manila, north and south Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao.

To pay their respects to the ultimate Filipino ophthalmologist, the PGS traditionally organizes a wreath-laying ceremony at Jose Rizal’s monument in Manila. Not only is Rizal known for his writing prowess, he was also a very capable eye doctor.

A media campaign and standardized presentations and information materials were also launched.

In partnership with Allergan, PGS is aggressively fighting to rid the country of glaucoma through education, exchange of ideas, research and publication. Its vision is “No Filipino will ever go blind from glaucoma.”

The Philippine Glaucoma Society along with globally recognized multi-specialty care company Allergan brings scientific excellence and rigor in delivering leading products that address glaucoma.

Allergan goes beyond providing education and information. With the highest level of integrity, it helps patients understand the choices available to them and make well-informed treatment decisions with their doctors.

Glaucoma is a worldwide crisis. Fortunately, Filipinos are not alone in the fight. Glaucoma should be eradicated completely if humanity should live life without fear of the sneak thief of sight. Be aware.

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