Common eye conditions seen
Jachie Eye Clinic sees the whole range of eye conditions. Most of the conditions seen can be treated at the clinic. Some cases are referred on for more specialist assessment.
In the common type of glaucoma (chronic open-angle glaucoma) there is damage to the optic nerve (the main seeing nerve) at the back of the eye. The damage to the nerve is usually caused by an increase in pressure within the eye. If it is not treated, glaucoma can lead to visual loss and even to blindness. Treatment (which reduces eye pressure) can slow down glaucoma and help to prevent blindness. Glaucoma is initially painless and has been called the ‘silent thief of sight’.
Glaucoma is the main cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. Africans are at least five times more likely to develop glaucoma than Caucasians. In Africans it is usually earlier in onset and more severe, leading to a high rate of blindness.
Often, patients do not come to the clinic until they have lost a significant amount of vision. Unfortunately, even with treatment, any sight that is already lost cannot be recovered. This is why screening and early treatment as soon as the condition develops is the aim. But, even when some vision is lost, treatment can prevent or delay further loss of vision.
The nurses at the clinic play a crucial role in educating patients about their treatment. Eye drops need to be used regularly to be effective in reducing the eye pressure in the treatment of glaucoma.
The teenagers seen in the picture are supported by Jachie clinic. They attend the blind school at Akrapong, about five hours drive away. They are blind due to untreated glaucoma when they were children.
These include short sight and long sight. They are very common visual problems that can usually be corrected with glasses or contact lenses. Correcting refraction errors is an important part of the clinic work at Jachie. Lenses ordered can be shaped to fit the glasses frames that have been donated from the UK. This work is done in the optical workshop attached to the clinic.
A cataract forms with the gradual clouding of the lens in the eye until eventually the lens becomes opaque which blocks vision. The strong sun and poor vitamin intake are the main risk factors to developing cataracts in Ghana. The treatment for cataract is a surgical operation to remove the cataract.
Cataracts are the second most common diagnosis at Jachie Eye Clinic. They are the main reason for eye surgery. Although most cataracts form in older people, some babies are born with cataracts when treatment is needed as a matter of urgency to prevent permanent blindness from developing.
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