Children with glaucoma need donations for overseas surgery

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Local optometrist Dr Jillia Bird said close monitoring of infants by parents, clinic workers and pediatricians will allow faster treatment of children with visual impairments.
In an OBSERVER media interview, Bird said that there have been two new cases of congenital glaucoma reported on island with one previous case re-emerging.
The disease in which high fluid pressure in the eye damages the optic nerve requires surgery that can only be received outside of Antigua & Barbuda.
 “Once we treat the pressure surgically, the pressure drops and the eyes clear up so those children can actually see quite well, if we intervene on an emergency basis early enough,” the doctor said.
“That is the problem, to get out of the island to do it because nobody does it here.”
Bird further explained that congenital glaucoma, which affects one in every 10,000 infants, can cause childhood blindness if left untreated. 
“It’s important to be on the alert, even with newborn babies, to look at their eyes. It’s hard to examine a baby; newborn babies’ eyes are closed against the light, the glare, noise and so on,” Bird said.
She also said that extra effort must be given into monitoring by health care providers as ‘you can miss a lot with babies’ eyes’.
In offering advice to the public, Dr Bird said, “We need to do comprehensive well-eye exams and not wait until you have a vision issue to go to the doctor; people should be checking their eyes once a year.”
In the most recent cases, the doctor advocated that treatment, though costly, will better the infant’s chances but will also require life-long management of the condition.
“The surgery can fail; the six month old is actually going back for repeat surgeries after the first procedure failed.”
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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