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MBS Engaging Students to Reduce Future Incidents of Glaucoma

ST. JOHN'S, Antigua - The Medical Benefits Scheme, (MBS), is providing students in Antigua and Barbuda with information to help reduce the possibilities of future loss of vision due to glaucoma. The Medical Benefits Scheme has sourced 400 copies of the book - The Flood on Socket Street by Sonya Osborne for distribution in schools. The book looks at the story of chronic glaucoma and presents it in a manner that appeals to children while highlighting the cause, effects and control of the disease, commonly know as 'the sneak thief of sight'.

According to the Medical Officer at the Medical Benefits Scheme, Dr. Leslie Walwyn, "locally, as in the rest of the Caribbean and the USA, Glaucoma is a silent disease and the leading cause of preventable blindness. She adds, "routine regular screening BEFORE vision deteriorates is the key to early diagnosis and treatment and preserving eyesight. In Antigua and Barbuda, Glaucoma is seen in all ages and runs in families. Routine screening should begin at thirty years and should be performed by an ophthalmologist or optometrist. Once diagnosed, free treatment is available to all beneficiaries with the disease from their ophthalmologist through the MBS pharmacies."

Glaucoma is one of nine critical illnesses covered by the Medical Benefits Scheme, and as such beneficiaries are entitled to treatment free of cost. The other illnesses are asthma, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, certified lunacy, diabetes, hypertension, leprosy and sickle cell anemia.

Fifth graders in Pares, Parham, Freeman's Village and J.T. Ambrose Primary Schools where the Medical Benefits Scheme operates its School Outreach Programme, will also have a homework assignment on the subject of Glaucoma. It is a competitive exercise and two winners will be chosen from each school.

The Medical Benefits Scheme will also be participating in glaucoma screening in Barbuda later this month.

Thursday, March 6, 2008, is the first World Glaucoma Day. Glaucoma is a disease characterized by gradual loss of vision resulting from death of the cells in the eye which transmits visual images through the optic nerve to the brain. As the optic nerve becomes increasingly damaged, permanent vision loss and blindness can occur.

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