Dr Valence Jordan, a consultant ophthalmologist at the Cornwall Regional Hospital in St James, is urging Jamaicans to get routine screenings for glaucoma so that the necessary early interventions can be made to preserve vision.
Dr Jordan who was speaking recently at a JIS Think Tank noted that glaucoma can severely hamper an individual’s quality of life and that all efforts should be made to prevent this from happening.
The US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide and that open-angle glaucoma, which is the most common form, results in increased eye pressure.
Fifty per cent of persons who are afflicted with glaucoma are unaware that they have the disease, as there are often no early symptoms.
Dr Jordan noted that while there is no cure for glaucoma, if caught early, persons can prevent further vision loss and preserve their sight.
He explained that with glaucoma, “the optic nerve or the eye nerve that carries information from the eyes to the brain gets progressively damaged and as it gets damaged you lose vision.”
The progression of glaucoma
The ophthalmologist highlighted the likely effects of the progression of the condition.
“It starts with your side vision and then eventually your central vision goes as well and when your vision is going, this affects your ability to carry out common daily activities like driving or reading or getting dressed, so essentially, when you’re losing your vision your quality of life is affected,” he noted.
“Because the optic nerve damage is irreversible, so there’s nothing that we can do to bring back the vision that is lost, all we can do is try to slow down the damage. So, get screened early,” he stressed.
Jordan further implored persons diagnosed with glaucoma to take their medication as prescribed, noting that missed medication could put the optic nerve at risk.
Dr Jordan received the award for most impactful oral presentation at the 13th National Health Research Conference in November 2022.
He presented research on ‘Vision-related quality of life in Jamaican glaucoma patients: Economic perspectives’, which evaluated the economic factors affecting a population of Jamaican glaucoma patients at one health facility to determine the association with vision-related quality of life.
The study found that most patients had low monthly income, and many were either retired or unemployed, which impacted their ability to purchase eye drops and do investigations required for glaucoma management.