News Releases

UWI marks World Glaucoma Week with free public screenings

For Release Upon Receipt - March 9, 2016

St. Augustine

The Department of Optometry and Visual Sciences at The University of the West Indies (UWI) St. Augustine joins the worldwide recognition of World Glaucoma Week from March 6 to 12 with free public screenings. The screenings have been taking place from March 7 and continue until March 11 at the Optometry Clinic on Gordon St, St. Augustine (next to The UWI Seismic Centre) from 8m to 10am daily.

Dr Desirée Murray, Lecturer in Ophthalmology noted that the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) recognise glaucoma as the leading cause of irreversible blindness in our region. Glaucoma refers to a group of eye diseases associated with elevated eye pressure, although in some persons, eye pressure may be within the normal range. Glaucoma causes damage to the nerve of sight, the optic nerve. Researchers at The UWI have listed glaucoma as the leading cause of blindness in Trinidad and Tobago, surpassing cataract and diabetic retinopathy. The study revealed that 1 in every 15 persons above the age of 30 is living with glaucoma and that an alarming 13% of patients diagnosed with glaucoma are already blind at their first visit to the eye clinic.

The World Glaucoma Association reports that while everyone has a 2.3% risk of developing glaucoma in his lifetime, this risk is increased 10 times for a First Degree Relative of a glaucoma patient. “Making First Degree Relatives aware of the need for regular eye checks for glaucoma testing” is also the theme of this year’s celebrations. A study conducted by the Ophthalmology Unit at The UWI revealed that 42% of glaucoma patients attending the eye clinic have a known family history of glaucoma. Raising awareness among these persons is therefore likely to prevent avoidable blindness from glaucoma.  

Dr Murray added “World Glaucoma Week contributes to the elimination of glaucoma blindness by alerting people to have regular eye checks. It is very important to have regular eye checks in order to detect glaucoma earlier and commence treatment sooner, to prevent avoidable blindness from glaucoma. Treatment is effective in arresting the disease, but it cannot reverse damage which has already occurred.” WHO and PAHO recommend periodic eye examinations to increase early detection, referral and treatment. “The earlier the diagnosis, the less damage done and the more vision saved,” she said.

For more information on the screenings please contact the Optometry Clinic at 225-1014.