Blindness prevention

World Glaucoma Week

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March 12 – 18, 2017 marks World Glaucoma Week; a collaboration between the World Glaucoma Association and the World Glaucoma Patient Association. The project is aimed at encouraging people to have their eyes (including their optic nerves) examined regularly, in order to combat visual impairment caused by glaucoma.

What is Glaucoma?

A treatable group of diseases that arises from increased pressure in the eye, which can damage the optic nerve, cause vision loss and eventually, blindness.

Statistics

According to the World Health Organisation, glaucoma accounts for 8% of global blindness, making it the second leading cause of blindness worldwide, after cataracts.


The number of people (aged 40-80 years) with glaucoma worldwide was estimated at just over 64 million in 2013, and is expected to increase to 76 million in 2020.

Risk Factors

People who are at greater risk of developing glaucoma include:

  • Those with high blood pressure;
  • Those with high eye pressure;
  • Those who suffered an eye injury;
  • Steroid users;
  • Those who have a family history of glaucoma;
  • African and Asian people, who are said to have a greater chance of developing glaucoma; and
  • Those who are over the age of 60 - chances of developing glaucoma increase as we age.

Prevention and treatment

  • Prevention is always better than the cure - a comprehensive eye exam at least once every two years is strongly advised.
  • Treatment of glaucoma involves a lowering of intraocular pressure (IOP) through the use of medicines (eye drops or pills), laser or incisional surgery (laser or conventional), or a combination of both medicine and surgery. Eye drops are the most common treatment option.

Click here to watch a short video (courtesy of CEU College of Optometry) about the causes and symptoms of Glaucoma.

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Eye care in Aggeneys

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The Aggeneys eye screening tour was a hive of activity. Over 250 patients were screened at clinics in February. Of these, 62 received cataract operations and 36 were booked for future surgery. With the help of friends like you, the Bureau has performed 243 cataract operations this year in the Northern Cape region – bringing much joy and relief to patients and their families.

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Stepping up for children

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Children are our future and yet those with poor vision often face serious learning challenges at school. That’s why the SANCB’s eye care division, the Bureau for the Prevention of Blindness, took a leap this year and launched the School Eye Screening Programme. L’Occitane en Provence Foundation generously sponsored the cost of screening pupils at two schools.

The first site was Nokuphila Primary School in Tembisa. Over 250 children were screened in February, with 25 children receiving spectacles and many others treated for minor ailments. The screening at the second school will take place later this year. Thanks to L’Occitane for enabling the early detection of vision problems among school learners.

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Love in Action

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Over 20 elderly residents from Love in Action Community Care Old Age Home were provided with free eye screening and treatment last year. We visited the home in partnership with Lions Club Centurion and Hillsong Church.

Vision loss among the elderly is a common and serious problem. Thank you to our partners for helping us show the elderly that their vision is important to us.

To make a donation now, click here

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Do your eyes a favour

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Smokers are constantly inundated with reasons to quit smoking: from cancer to heart disease and stroke.

And we’re adding one more reason to the list – because latest research shows that smokers are up to 47% more likely to suffer from Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) or other degenerative eye conditions than non-smokers.

Macular degeneration is when the macula, the part of the retina that gives us our central vision, deteriorates. As it deteriorates, individuals lose their central vision, which prevents them from being able to perform many activities such as reading, driving, watching TV and even recognizing faces.

AMD accounts for 7.1% of global blindness, making it the fourth biggest cause of blindness worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation. And yet many smokers are still unaware that their habit could cost them their sight.

May is Anti-Tobacco Month and 31 May is World No Tobacco Day – so this May, we encourage smokers to give up smoking and to look after their eyes.

While AMD can be caused by the aging process, it is exacerbated by tobacco use.

That's because smoking has several negative effects on the eyes, including reducing antioxidants in the body, reducing blood flow to the eyes (which causes vital nerve endings to die out), and lowering levels of pigments in the retina.

To decrease your risk of developing blindness, get your eyes checked at least once a year to allow for early detection of AMD. A healthy diet rich in zinc and antioxidants will also significantly reduce the risk of advanced AMD developing.

Remember that as much as 80% of blindness is avoidable – so an eye test can save your sight.
 

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Understanding diabetes

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Diabetes is a dangerous illness, which can cause irreversible damage to your eyes and can lead to blindness if not treated in time. There’s no cure for diabetes, but keeping an ideal body weight and an active lifestyle may prevent Type 2 diabetes.

Remember, your vision is irreplaceable – protect it and try to prevent complications by visiting your health care provider or diabetes educator at least four times a year.
 

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Create awareness about eye care

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Help us to get the message out there! We need people to test their eyes. Click here to see how you can help.

Bureau for the Prevention of Blindness

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You can have your eyes screened by one of our  Eye Care Division's mobile units when they visit your area. People who experience eye problems, vision difficulties, eye pain, infections and inflammation can report to Council staff from 8:00 am on the screening days. People with blindness-causing conditions will be seen by an eye specialist and a sight-restoring operation may be performed. Spectacles are also available.

For further information and to find out when a team will be in your area, phone Feni Maimane on 012 452-3811 or click here to send her an email.

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