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Sep 12, 2019

Healthy Living takes a look at Glaucoma

By now you know that a yearly eye test is advised to maintain and protect your vision. But an eye exam can also detect diseases like Glaucoma that can rob you of your vision without any warning. In tonight’s Healthy Living, we find out more about who is at risk and what you can do to prevent it.


Dr. Amin Hegar, Ophthalmologist, Belize Vision Center

“It goes so gradual that’s why they call it like, Glaucoma is like the sneaky thief of sight.


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

A silent, sneaky thief because in the early stages of Glaucoma, there are no symptoms. So the permanent damage taking place in the eye happens without a patient even noticing. Veteran Ophthalmologist, Dr. Amin Hegar says that not enough people are aware of the disease and its devastating impact.


Dr. Amin Hegar

Dr. Amin Hegar

“Glaucoma is a disease of the eye that affects the optic nerve and by so doing it causes blindness. The most important things Is that the patient doesn’t have any signs or symptoms until it’s too late until they have lost about 40% of their vision. Some people may have a watery eyes, the eyes get watery and some little pain, some patients can develop haloes around the light when they look at the light they’ll see like it has rings. Buts, most of them have no signs or symptoms. We don’t have any statistics here but internationally we say its 4%. So if in Belize we have close to 400 thousand. 4% would be about 16 thousand. Let’s say twelve to 15 thousand people will have Glaucoma in Belize. Forty percent is undiagnosed because they need to have more awareness. Or know the treatments. If treated properly at the beginning, they do well. The majority will not lose their vision if treated properly at the beginning or prevent it.”


Glaucoma is when the liquid inside the eye becomes obstructed and pressure begins to build. It can happen naturally in the aging process, especially after the age of 40, other risk factors include if you have a history of Glaucoma in your family and if you are of African, Hispanic, or Asian heritage


Dr. Amin Hegar

“Liquid produced it can’t come out. It’s like clogged drainage in the kitchen or something. The liquid cannot come out of the eye. Pressure builds up we say it can’t go any more than twenty-four millimeters of mercury we say. But once we have that we are borderline and just taking the pressure alone is not enough, we have to look at the optic nerve to see if there is any damage.”


There are two common types of Glaucoma.


Dr. Amin Hegar

“The chronic one it can happen maybe 5 to ten years before you see at 30 – 40 % but you don’t see any damage until it’s a bit too late. Because the center of vision is not affected until it’s late. It starts on the periphery. That why we have the visual fields to see if there is any loss in the periphery.”


Acute Glaucoma is less common but very serious. Dr. Hegar explains that it can easily be misdiagnosed.

Dr. Amin Hegar

“These are the types of patients that come to the hospital into the emergency room because they have severe pain like stabbing like pains and they come with blurred vision and the eyes are red, and they hem vomiting and the medical doctor doesn’t look at the eye or make a careful history they let it pass, and they treat it like gastroenteritis because the patient is vomiting and migraine or something until somebody says it might be Glaucoma; see an ophthalmologist and they come and their pressure is so high. One you treat it the Glaucoma can be solved right away, but there’s damage already.”
Glaucoma can be controlled. Proper management includes medicated eyedrops administered daily. But, any damage already suffered or vision loss before treatment cannot be reversed.

Dr. Amin Hegar

“I stress they should have a yearly exam to diagnose to rule out that they don’t have Glaucoma.”


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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