2015 “Enhancing Sight, Enhancing Lives” kick-off activity-WGW Press Conference
Taiwan Initiated 2015 WGW Activity to Promote Glaucoma Awareness
2015 “Enhancing Sight, Enhancing Lives” kick-off activity was launched officially to support 2015 World Glaucoma Week (WGW). Through free intraocular pressure (IOP) screening, citizens are reminded of the importance of early diagnosis and early intervention, so as to “Beat Invisible Glaucoma” as the main theme of 2015 WGW.
The kick-off activity of 2015 “Enhancing Sight, Enhancing Lives” eye-care campaign was launched officially to unveil the support for World Glaucoma Week (WGW). WGW is a global promotional activity of glaucoma launched by the World Glaucoma Association and World Glaucoma Patient Association to arouse the public awareness to prevent glaucoma through global action.
The Ophthalmological Society of Taiwan (TOS), Taiwan Academy of Ophthalmology (TAO), Taiwan Glaucoma Association (TGA), and Alcon Taiwan organized eye-care activity during World Glaucoma Week (March 8~14, 2015) to fight this eye disease causing irreversible blindness worldwide through publicizing the need of glaucoma prevention. Through above activity, it generated over hundred news coverages and successfully attracted the public attentions to glaucoma issue.
Those with high myopia, elderly people, and those with family history are high-risk groups
According to Dr. Lin-chung Woung, President of TOS, TOS began co-organizing the national eye-care campaign with Alcon Taiwan from 2005. Glaucoma is a silent thief of the sight and it is one of the main causes of irreversible blindness worldwide. Glaucoma is usually found in elderly people and people with high myopia. It is often overlooked because there are no noticeable signs and symptoms at the beginning. Through comprehensive promotion and IOP screening during WGW period, the activity aims to increase the people awareness to glaucoma and the importance of the regular eye-check.
According to Dr. Long-kuang Lin, President of TAO, glaucoma is a major issue in global blindness prevention. If not actively diagnosed, the middle or terminal stage is when signs and symptoms would appear. Therefore, it is necessary to actively promote to the public the importance of early diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma.
Glaucoma patients increased by nearly 70% in one decade: Taiwan BNHI statistics
According to the 2013 BNHI (Bureau of National Health Insurance) statistics, there were totally 310,000 patients seeking medical attention for glaucoma, with an increase by nearly 70% since the past decade. In addition, 27% of them were young people aged 10~49. That is, one out of every four glaucoma patients was a youth on average. According to Dr. Da-wen Lu, Chairman of TGS, the rise of awareness is the cause of increase in glaucoma patients. More and more people are diagnosed with glaucoma at an earlier stage because of their active consultation and screening and the advancement of examination instruments. High myopia and eye overuse also account for glaucoma. As myopia is very common in Taiwan and young people use computers, communication products and consumer electronics very often, eyes age quickly due to overuse, thus giving rise to glaucoma in younger ages.
Dr. Da-wen Lu emphasized, as the glaucoma attack rate is about 2%, there should be 450,000 glaucoma patients in Taiwan accordingly. This suggests that there are 150,000 potential/latent glaucoma patients remain undiscovered. Particularly, if glaucoma is a family history, the incidence rate is 7-9 times higher. Therefore, those from a family with glaucoma history should begin screening at 18, and ordinary people are advised to receive glaucoma screening once a year from 35 years old.
Screening potential glaucoma patients with free IOP check
The eye-care activity for World Glaucoma Week this year was organized in the form of Glaucoma Fair held at Yongkang Park in Taipei City on March 8 to provide citizens with free IOP check. The activity began at 10:00 a.m. and attracted many people lining up for the test. The “Beat Invisible Glaucoma” game was also arranged to remind citizens to fight glaucoma actively.
Among citizens taking the IOP test, TOS conducted a random survey to produce statistics on the incidence rate of ocular hypertension (IOP over 21 mmHg). Of a population of 296 respondents, eight had IOP over 21 mmHg (normal value), accounting for 2.7% of total. This figure almost coincides with the 2% world incidence rate of glaucoma, and female has a higher incidence rate than male. In terms of age group, 29% respondents with ocular hypertension are aged 10~49, which is close to BNHI’s 27%. All these suggest that we need to view seriously the lowering age of glaucoma patients.
TOS also urged that as glaucoma usually develops progressively over a long time, regular eye examination and IOP check are the only ways to prevent glaucoma. They also hope that all citizens can get involved in glaucoma prevention, to eliminate this blindness-causing eye disease.
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