In the public eye

JGH Ophthalmic Technician Marc Renaud raising awareness about glaucoma at the Montreal North Health Fair, shown here (right) with Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette.
JGH Ophthalmic Technician Marc Renaud raising awareness about glaucoma at the Montreal North Health Fair, shown here (right) with Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette.

Raising glaucoma awareness in the community

Keep your eyes peeled for patients who may have glaucoma.

Why is early detection so important? Glaucoma causes irreversible damage to the optic nerve and may lead to blindness, says Dr. Oscar Kasner, Director of the Glaucoma Service at the JGH.

“Glaucoma is the silent thief of sight, incurable and asymptomatic at its onset,” says Marc Renaud, a JGH ophthalmic technician. “Fortunately, though, it can be stabilized through a variety of effective treatments, so our glaucoma team keeps very active in getting the word out in the community.”

Mr. Renaud explains that people of African descent have a higher incidence of the most common form of glaucoma, so their outreach includes a dvd translated into Creole and articles published in local newspapers such as Le Montréal Africain and the Montreal Community Contact (for the Montreal English-speaking Caribbean community).

This September, the Montreal North Health Fair, an initiative of the Fondation des médecins Canado-Haitiens, provided another venue for raising awareness. “The fair gave us the opportunity to meet with hundreds of people,” says Mr. Renaud. “We distributed informative pamphlets on glaucoma and offered demonstrations on self-administered treatment techniques—it was a great success.”

Direct patients to glaucoma info sessions

For twelve years, a monthly drop-in clinic on glaucoma has been offered to the public at the Jewish General Hospital by the McGill Glaucoma Information Centre. Alternating English and French, the sessions offer patients and their families explanations on how to control and stabilize their vision straight from the experts, including Mr. Renaud, the project’s manager, JGH Ophthalmic Nurse Carole Desharnais and Dr. Kasner. Mr. Renaud explains the causes and consequences of glaucoma, while Ms. Desharnais demonstrates how to properly administer daily eye drop medication. In the final portion of the session, patients can ask for specifics about their condition.

“Glaucoma is the second-leading cause of vision loss in elderly Quebecers, but it is said that over 50 per cent of people with glaucoma are unaware that they have the disease,” says Mr. Renaud. “That’s why awareness and education efforts are so important and should be encouraged by the medical community.”

To learn more about the free information sessions at the Jewish General Hospital, including dates of the upcoming presentations, visit JGH Now.

Mr. Renaud can be reached via Lotus at glaucomaed@yahoo.ca or by telephone at (514) 340-8222, extension 24954.

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