Glaucoma Watch Bulletin


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The Glaucoma Watch Newsletter is produced by CCB-Eye Care Caribbean. This edition (Quarter 1 2011) shares the experiences of people around the Caribbean who have been affected by Glaucoma. In this edition you will share in Hyacinth Daniels "Journey of Faith" and read more about how Ganesh Singh was saved by cricket. Also you will learn how Sylvia & George Blythe live in "Sickness and in Health" and we will expose the truth behind popular glaucoma myths.

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Glaucoma Watch Bulletin

  1. 1. GLAUCOMA WATCH “Cricket saved me” Ganesh Singh was your typical student. At his high school in Georgetown, Guyana, he was popular among his peers, the heart throb of teenage girls and he had an insatiable appetite for the game of cricket and maths. Overall, life was good, but things took a dramatic turn when at the age of thirteen (13), on a visit to the United States, he was diagnosed with Glaucoma. Shortly after his final exams, he nerves ! were damaged. I think thats “I was basically seeing objects, I could visited his specialist who one of the most difficult stages to get define them although I could only see delivered a blow to what little blind or to acquire any form of shadows” hope there was. And so, four disability, at 16,17, you are in your years after being diagnosed, prime teenage years. How could I get Ganesh was not sure what to think Ganesh lost his sight. He was 17 blind at that stage? My life stopped” of his condition, but he soldiered on years old. and in August 2000 he sat his high Overtaken by depression, Ganesh school examinations from the “Thats when I got the really really literaly locked himself away from Caribbean Examinations Council sad news, I was told that 99% of my the world for five years. (CXC). continued on page 3 JAMAICA : Joyce Williams - aGUYANA : Hazlin Bagot getting her eyes ST LUCIA : Patient being examined at the Glaucoma patient vising the Eye Clinicchecked at the Eye Clinic at the Georgetown Eye Clinic located at St Lucia Blind Welfare at the Mandeville Regional Hospital .Public Hospital Association . 1
  2. 2. craft which includes making baskets, place mats and other items . She now While her vision loss did not come as dreams of opening her own store. a surprise, Hyacinth now had to learn A JOURNEY OF to readjust to her blindness. "I have done so much with my sight, I "I eventually got used to it with the actually climbed the Pitons while FAITH help of the Blind Welfare ( St Lucia blind, yes I was blind, Ive been to the Blind Welfare Association) and of forest and there is also blind cricket. course my friends. I gradually started Im a good batter and Ive played in a to feel more comfortable with my blind cricket tournament in Barbados. situation and now, years later , after Now I have other dreams, I would losing my sight, I am just fine” love to open my own craft store because I want to be independent . I In adjusting to blindness, Hyacinth also want to get married one day …." S he has climbed the famous learnt the wonder of using her hands to make a living. Having Glaucoma was not the end of the world for Hyacinth whoPitons in her homeland of St Lucia ,she loves a good game of cricket and "I used to work in pottery, I did this continues to hold onto her proud of her accomplishments - all for three to four years and then turneddone since losing her sight over to straw craft. Straw craft is what I "Put your trust in God and be aroundtwenty years ago. really really love” people with disabilities and you will get encouragement, all is not lost, you"I wasnt always blind, I lost my At home, Hyacinth is kept busy, in can do a lot with your disability.”sight at the age of ten, it was to addition to taking care of her son andGlaucoma" . helping her mother around the house, she finds time for her strawHyacinth Daniel is now 39 andlives in the village of Debreuil, inChoiseul, located on thesouthwestern side of the island. Hyacinth and her son showing some of her strawShe vividly recalls what she says craftwas the most difficult period in herlife"You know I remember my struggles,I took so much medication, thedoctors tries to help me. I did threeoperations. Everything was so veryvery painful" she said.The pain that is sometimesassociated with Glaucoma alsoaffected Hyacinth. The PITONS - St Lucia’s most"My eyes used to hurt real bad, as famous land mark. Located nearthough I had stones in them, the the town of Soufriere, they topmemories are painful, the good thing 2,000 ftis that I still remember somethingsfrom when I could see , like colours.My sight went very very slowly,sometimes i could see a line, then iwould see shadows and eventuallynothing at all" 2
  3. 3. He recalls that problems with his eyes blind. But they didn’t tell me that I wouldIn Sickness and in Health became evident shortly after he go to bed and just wake up and couldn’t returned home. see” Years “One night, years ago, my eyes suddenly Glaucoma - “the thief of sight” robbed got foggy and started to run water, this her of her vision. Their daughter who had never happened. My friend who was is now their care-giver, believes her ago when with me said something had to be wrong . mother’s sight could have been saved George I went to the doctor who gave me a letter if she only listened to the Doctors. and to see a specialist who told me it looked Sylvia like Glaucoma. I went to another Doctor Sylvia disagrees. Blythe and when they checked it they didn’t tell promised me what was wrong. They gave me pills “The Doctor said the pressure in the eyeto be with each other in “sickness and and eye drops and told me to come back was high high, I got drops, but after theyin health”, little did they know the every three months. told me I had to do an operation because Ireality of their wedding vows. This went on for seven years. Sometimes had cataract and Glaucoma. After hearingThe couple, both in their 70s have lost there were no doctors at the hospital, I had that I didn’t go back - what was the use?”their vision due to Glaucoma. to go to private doctors and that cost a lot of money. “I don’t worry about it, my husband toldFor years George,72, fought long and me what would happen. We cheer up eachhard hoping to conquer recurring eye One day seven doctors examined my eyes. other.” Sylvia said.problems. One of them told me that no matter what happened they could not save my vision.“My grandfather was blind, so was my One day the vision in my left eye wentfather and now it’s my turn… it’s not suddenly and a few years later, I went Videoeasy but there is nothing else to do” blind in the other”George who describes himself as a Through his ordeal, his wife, Sylvia,jack of all trades, said that in his 74, stood by his side, not knowing thatyounger years he had countless jobs, she would suffer the same fate 13from being a mason, a baker, a years later.gardner and participating in the farmwork programme in the United States. “I woke up one morning and when IWhile overseas an injury forced him opened my eyes, I could only see out of return to Jamaica. one. I was looking to go blind though, v=IPKmCb6NoBg because people told me that I would go GLAUCOMA PATIENTS : THEIR STORIES v=Vufv-rQsPdM v=_McfOu9Q4XM Collin Mullings, 59, was diagnosed with 87 year old Sylvia King, used to declare that Glaucoma following cataract surgery at no man would ever touch her eyes. After being the Mandeville Regional Hospital in diagnosed with Glaucoma , she encourages every one to get their eyes checked before its too Jamaica late. 3
  4. 4. Cricket saved me....(cont’d from pg 1) “I would say that f you have some“I stayed at home, listened to a lot of As fate would have it, Ganesh sight now, try to care it. Dont live inmusic, went to a few places with my soon met Nicole Forde, an any false security because withcousin, where no one really knew me. Adjustment to Blindness Specialist Glaucoma you can go blind at someI lost my high schools friends, I from the Caribbean Council for point in your life. I am here to tell youblanked them out , from that we lost the Blind (CCB), Guyana Office. that there is life after blindness”contact. I had a few friends close towhere I live and they stuck around. It “When I started Blind Cricket, For Ganesh and hundreds ofwas hard, I was never educated about Nicole woked with me in cane others across the Caribbean, losingmy condition, although I had training, it has been a great help his vision was life changingGlaucoma, I wasnt aware of the having persons like Nicole to guide experience that was initially hardconsequences, I thought something you in the process. I was one of the to accept. He is now fightingcould be done to save by sight, I had persons who was the most difficult, another battle - that of acceptancesuch a false sense of security” for anyone to get me to use the cane it was a difficult task. I have only “My fight everyday is on those whoBLIND CRICKET started using it for a few months. offer pity and charity. we are equalBelieving that all his dreams were Now Im pretty okay with it, I dont human beings, give us an evenshattered, Ganesh even see it as something that really labels playing field. But there are those whocontemplated suicide, but one day, me. make persons think that when yourethe long awaited wake up call blind or visually impaired you wantcame when he heard about blind Today Ganesh is unstoppable, he sympathy, I don’t want yourcricket. plays an integral role with the sympathy” Guyana Council for Disabilities,“You cant believe how excited I was! Young Voices Guyana - a Youth "For the persons who like attention, itCricket was always my passion and Disability Group, he sits on the doesnt last forever, persons will getnow I was being told that although I board of Guyana Blind Cricket fed up. so at some point in time youcould not see I could still play? For me Association and is also a Director need to be strong enough to have thethat was the turning point of my life, of the West Indies Blind Cricket courage to be independent.although it came five years after going Council.blind” Ganesh has been faced with his Ganesh has come a long way and fare share of challenges but he hasEverything took of from then on. is proud of what he has acheived triumphed.Ganesh regained his confidence, so far. He continues to enjoyattended workshops and met cricket but he has all but given up “The future is bright, I am all over theothers who could relate to his on his dream of becoming an place, there is no time to be bored andsituation. accountant. the best is yet to come”"When I started in blind cricket, I “A part of me will always be dead if Ithen got involved in other things, dont get to do accounting.such as workshops. The sport of Who would want to employ me?cricket you meet other blind persons Thats almost impossible - or ratherand it rubs off on you and helps to highly your confidence” Therefore, I dont want to waste my energies and focus on that - but whoAs his confidence soared but knows maybe one day”there was one major obstacle -learning to use the “white Having faces his own strugglescane”in order to get around. But with blindness, Ganesh has alearning to use the cane was one Ganesh preparing for a game of cricket message for those battlingproblem. the other was pride. Glaucoma. !Not wanting anyone to know (photo : VSO/Simon Rawles)that he was blind. 4
  5. 5. Glaucoma myths & facts ........ suffering from Glaucoma which is called Juvenile Glaucoma. People SEE YOUR DOCTOR who inherit Glaucoma generally IMMEDIATELY IF .... . develop it in their early forties. Incidences of Glaucoma increases You suffer from recur ring further with advancing age. blurry vision MYTH: I have great vision, I You believe your perip heral don’t wear glasses, so i couldn’t (side) vision is decre asing Dr Marlene Smith -Day have Glaucoma. You see rainbow-hued halos Consultant Ophthalmologist around lights at night FACT: Most forms of Glaucoma Mandeville Regional Hospital, Jamaica have no symptoms or cause no You experience pain around the ••• change in vision until late in the eyes after watching tv or course of the disease. leaving a dark room.MYTH: Smoking Marijuana will MYTH : If you have lost your visioncure Glaucoma due to Glaucoma , there’s no needFACT:Smoking “ganja” will not for those who do not use the FACT: You must continue to use theprescribed eye drops. They will still prescribed medication. This willgo blind. Other problems could control the pressure within the eyedevelop such as stomach ulcers and prevent further damage .and lung cancer.MYTH: If there’s no pain, there’s noproblem. MYTH:Glaucoma always leads to blindnessFACT:The most common form of FACT:Nearly 90 per cent of allGlaucoma - Open Angle Glaucoma Dr Smith-Day examines a patient Glaucoma-related blindness can beinitially has no symptoms. The prevented with proper treatment.pressue in the eye builds gradually. The key is timely diagnosis.Without treatment, blindness willoccur.MYTH:Only the elderly get Patients atGlaucoma the EyeFACT: Glaucoma can affect any age Clinic located atgroup from the new-born to the theelderly, though increase in life Mandevilleexpectancy is one of the high-risk Regionalfactors.. Hospital - JamaicaIt is not uncommon to find childrenbetween the ages of four and ten 5
  6. 6. What is Glaucoma wires. It is responsible for carrying Main causes of Blindness images from the eye to the brain. in the Caribbean There is no cure for glaucoma—yet. However, medication or surgery can slow or prevent further vision loss. 1. Non Operated Cataracts The appropriate treatment depends upon the type of Glaucoma among 2. Unconrrected Refractive other factors. Early detection is vital to Error stopping the progress of the disease. 3. Low Vision It was once thought that high pressure Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases within the eye, also known as 4. Diabetic Retinopathy that gradually steal sight without intraocular pressure or IOP, is the warning. In the early stages of the main cause of this optic nerve damage. 5. Childhood Blindness disease, there may be no symptoms. Although IOP is clearly a risk factor, it Experts estimate that half of the is believed that aeven people with 6. Glaucoma people affected by Glaucoma may not “normal” levels of pressure can know they have it. experience vision loss from Glaucoma. Vision loss is caused by damage to the (The Glaucoma Research Foundation) optic nerve. This nerve acts like an electric cable with over a million Our Mission, Our FOLLOW US ON ........ Purpose, Our Goal.... Our purpose is preventing blindness and visual impairment while restoring sight @ccbeyecare and creating opportunities for persons whose sight cannot be restored. @CCB Eye Care Caribbean How can you help?Please donate to CCB Eye Care Caribbean. Donations may be made via our website