According to the Philippine Glaucoma Society, glaucoma ranked as the leading cause of blindness in both eyes in our country today. Currently, there are no reliable estimates as to how many Filipinos have the disease.
For almost nine years, I have come across this type of eye diseases almost on a daily basis when I was still a medical representative of a pharmaceutical company that solely distributes eye and ear medicines. Academically, I was trained and taught to learn there is to know about glaucoma in relation to the medicines I am promoting to ophthalmologists I engaged every day. Only in recent years that I came to the realization of its serious threat when people who were close to me have contracted the disease and now suffer a life of total blindness. And the sad part is, it is irreversible.
As backgrounder, Glaucoma is a condition that affects the eye’s optic nerve, a part of the eye which is connected directly to the brain that is responsible carrying information about what a person sees form the eyes to the brain. This damaged is brought about by the build-up of pressure of fluid within the eye resulted to an abnormal drainage of this fluid.
Last March 7, 2012, I was invited to attend a media conference sponsored by Allergan Philippines, a leading partner that produces medicines dedicated to eye care. The conference is spear-headed by the Philippine Glaucoma Society, a group of Ophthalmologists who specializes in the field of glaucoma. The event was a series of lectures on the disease by the country’s leading glaucoma experts namely, Dr. Mario Aquino, Dr. Norman Aquino, Dr. Ma. Imelda Yap-Veloso, Dr. Manolito Reyes, Dr. Ma. Zita Meriales, Dr. Hannah Pia de Guzman, Dr. Biboy Martinez and Dr. Ranier Covar.
The event was in conjunction to the celebration of World Glaucoma Week on March 12-16, 2012 that will gather thousands of medical practitioners all over the country in a 2-day congress. A part of their activities was a week-long of glaucoma awareness campaign that will cover all major key cities and provinces all over the country. The objective is to let as many people know about the disease and to detect it as early as possible.
The presenters shared to the guests and media some alarming cases where glaucoma can be associated with common illnesses in Filipinos such as hyopertension, heart diseases and diabetes. In many cases in most part of the country most especially in poor areas where medical centers are limited or the means to have a check-up are difficult, this type of illnesses are ignored or undiagnosed, therefore treatment come too late.
The panel of presenters emphasizes the early diagnosis can save a lot of patient to arrive in worst condition of glaucoma. The illness is irreversible and there is yet no known cure to bring back the vision that was lost. The only thing that doctors and medications can do is to preserve whatever quality of sight a patient has at the time he or she was diagnosed.
For people who are 40 and above who usually go to an optical shop to get a prescribe eye glasses it would be wise to also consider seeing an ophthalmologists instead so that one can have a thorough eye check up that includes the measuring the pressure of the eyes to detect early signs of glaucoma.