Omari waves his hands about with joy after his glaucoma operation.

Glaucoma treatment trial

Country: Tanzania
Category: Saving sight

A pioneering treatment trial in Tanzania could, if successful, significantly improve the treatment of glaucoma across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Glaucoma is the second most common cause of blindness worldwide. It leads to damage to the optic nerve and permanent blindness. Early diagnosis and treatment is vital to save a person’s sight.

CBM eye specialist Dr Heiko Philippin led the trial at our partner hospital Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) in Northern Tanzania, which sees 2,000 patients with glaucoma each year.

Dr Philippin and the team trialled a treatment called Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT). SLT has been in use in the UK for several years, but this is the first time it is being trialled in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Currently, eye drops are the main treatment used to treat Glaucoma in Tanzania, but this requires frequent return visits to hospital. For many patients who live in rural locations, travelling to hospital is difficult and they are not able to return for the continued sight-saving treatment. It is hoped that a single SLT treatment will last at least 2-3 years, providing a much more effective approach to treating the condition in rural Africa.

This exciting trial is funded by an Innovation Fund grant as part of the Seeing is Believing programme, a collaboration between Standard Chartered and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness. Results are due to be published in 2021.


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