Hyderabad: City Health Care NGO, Helping Hand Foundation, has launched a first of its kind screening for Glaucoma at one of its Primary Health Care centers it runs in association with SEED-USA from a Mosque situated in Wadi e Mahmood, Rajendranagar.
The Glaucoma screening will be an additional feature added to the existing Integrated & Upgraded Community Ophthalmology set up under one roof, which comprises of screening for refractive errors, fundus examination for retinopathy, cataract surgeries and now screening for glaucoma all done free of cost under a highly experience Ophthalmologist and Staff.
HHF-SEED, clinics are the only ones doing such free comprehensive and integrated eye care under one roof. Such integrated eye care facilities which are brought so near to most vulnerable sections without any cost will go a long way in prevention of blindness and other eye issues, said Mr. Mazharuddin Hussaini, Executive Director, SEED-USA a partner in this venture.
“With poor awareness levels and lack of affordable and easily accessible eye care at the Community level in the Urban slums – eye health is neglected and is the single largest cause of blindness in many vulnerable groups like this,” said Mr. Mujtaba Hasan Askari of Helping Hand Foundation.
The NGO has so far screened over 10062 patients in the last one year, across all its primary health care centers in 50 different Urban Slums of the city. Patients with Non-Communicable diseases are the first to get screened for refractive errors, cataracts, retinopathies and now glaucoma.
“58% of the patients screened were found to be having refractive errors, in which 45% had Uni Focal vision, 35% had bi focal vision & 20% had reading glasses hitherto undiagnosed and perhaps the single largest cause of blindness in India. Free spectacles were provided to 5000 plus vulnerable sections mainly children in the slums who hitherto had no access to eye care,”
“7% of screened were found with cataract and 60% of them were operated free of cost. 3% were diagnosed with diabetic & hypertensive retinopathy,”
Another 6% with other eye issues like VKC, AED, stye, chalazion, blepharitis, episcleritis, conjunctivitis, pterygium, foreign body sensation, corneal foreign bodies, conjunctival foreign bodies, dry eye, NLD, and DCR, requiring specialized treatment and care & the rest 27% did not have any eye issues.
It is estimated that the Community health eye care program of HHF-SEED has helped save approx. Rs 75 lacs worth of Out-of-pocket expenses for poor patients through the eye screening program in the last one year.
“Early detection and management of glaucoma is essential for preserving vision and preventing further damage. Glaucoma is a progressive disease, meaning that it will continue to worsen over time if left untreated. Early detection and treatment can slow the progression of the disease and help preserve vision, said Dr. Arshiya Akbar, Ophthalmologist and Ocular surgeon associated with this program at the Clinic.
The Tonometer for Glaucoma screening costing Rs 5 lacs was donated by Mrs. Habiba Akhil, a donor of HHF-SEED from USA in memory of her parents.
Glaucoma is the most common cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. Many patients with glaucoma are asymptomatic early in the course of disease, given the often slowly progressive nature of the condition. Therefore, screening of higher-risk patients is essential to minimize vision loss and prevent blindness.
Glaucoma is a chronic progressive optic neuropathy, characterized by damage to the optic nerve and retinal nerve fibre layer. Glaucoma is often, but not always, associated with elevated intraocular pressure (IOP).
If untreated, the disease can lead to irreversible blindness. Glaucoma is a heterogeneous group of conditions which may be classified into two broad categories: open-angle glaucoma (OAG) and angle-closure glaucoma (ACG).
It is estimated that India has the 2nd largest burden of disease in the world and over 75 million Indians are already affected with Glaucoma.