World Glaucoma Week, 12-18 March 2017

Specsavers and the International Glaucoma Association (IGA) are joining up in a million pound health information campaign to raise awareness of glaucoma and encourage people to have regular eye examinations.

Glaucoma – often described as the ‘silent thief of sight’ due to its gradual onset – causes damage to the optic nerve. It affects 600,000 in the UK[i]  and more than 64 million people[ii] worldwide making it the leading cause of irreversible blindness globally[iii].

The campaign begins by highlighting research findings that men are at greater risk of losing their sight than women because they ignore warning signs and do not seek medical attention. The research, which focused on glaucoma, was carried out by City University[iv] and showed that men are 16% more likely than women to suffer advanced vision loss on diagnosis of the condition.

Timed to coincide with World Glaucoma Week[v], which runs from 12 to 18 March, the campaign will include TV and national press advertising, online activity and posters and health information in Specsavers’ 770 stores nationwide.

Welcoming the partnership, Karen Osborn, CEO of the IGA, says: ‘Glaucoma is found in 2% of the UK’s population aged over 40[vi]. Most of those people have a slow developing form of the condition and we estimate that half of all cases – that’s over 300,000 people[vii] – remain undiagnosed and are unaware that they could be slowly losing their sight.

‘Research shows more men than women are expected to be in this group because they simply do not seek medical treatment as readily as women.

‘The health awareness campaign the IGA is working on with Specsavers will educate about the importance of regular eye examinations before significant sight is lost. Once sight is lost, it cannot be recovered..’

The Specsavers IGA partnership follows a similar agreement between Specsavers and Royal National Institute of Blind People announced last August. The logos of all three organisations will appear at the end of the Specsavers TV ad which airs from Sunday onwards.

Sally Harvey, Chief Executive of RNIB, says: ‘We welcome any initiative that encourages people to look after their eye health.

‘Regular eye tests and early detection on the high street, followed by timely intervention and management of eye health conditions, could help save your sight.’

Doug Perkins, Co-founder of Specsavers and an optometrist for more than 50 years, is delighted by the partnerships with the IGA and RNIB.

He says, ‘Working together with people who are so committed to eye health and do such amazing work is a real privilege. I am looking forward to a long and fruitful relationship with them.’

 Following Specsavers’ drive last year for all its optometrists to be Level 2 accredited in minor eye conditions, the focus has switched to glaucoma accreditation. By World Glaucoma Week, every Specsavers store will have at least one optometrist who has completed the WOPEC (Wales Optometry Postgraduate Education Centre) Level 1 glaucoma accreditation, reinforcing their skills in detecting glaucoma and monitoring the signs of its progression, with Level 2 set to be achieved by all optometrists by September.

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 About the International Glaucoma Association:

  • The International Glaucoma Association (IGA) is the charity for people with glaucoma. Its mission is to raise awareness of glaucoma, promote research related to early diagnosis and treatment, and to provide support to patients and all those who care for them. For more information, please visit:
  • Set up in 1974, it is the oldest patient based glaucoma association in the world and it is a registered charity in England and Wales, and also in Scotland
  • As part of its support services, the IGA operates the Sightline (telephone helpline) and provides free information on any aspect of glaucoma.
  • For more information about glaucoma, contact the International Glaucoma Association (IGA) Sightline on 01233 64 81 70 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am–5.00pm).
  • In England, Wales and Northern Ireland close relatives of people with glaucoma who are aged 40 plus can have a sight test and examination by an optometrist which is paid for by the NHS, and everyone aged 60 and over is entitled to free testing. In Scotland, the NHS will pay for glaucoma examinations offered by optometrists, regardless of age.


Specsavers is a partnership of almost 2,000 locally-run businesses throughout the world -all committed to delivering high quality, affordable optical and hearing care in the communities they serve.

  • Each store is part-owned and managed by its own joint venture partners who are supported by key specialists in support offices.
  • More than 31 million customers used Specsavers in 2016 and the partnership had a turnover of more than £2bn.
  • More than one in three people who wear glasses in the UK buy them from Specsavers.
  • Specsavers is a champion of the National Health Service – of its 19.2m customers in the UK, 60% are from the NHS and the company is the largest provider of free NHS digital hearing aids.
  • Specsavers supports several UK charities and is in partnership with RNIB for a public awareness campaign to transform the nation’s eye health.

About RNIB:

Every 15 minutes, someone in the UK begins to lose their sight. We are RNIB (The Royal National Institute of Blind People) and we're here for everyone affected by sight loss – that's over 2 million people in the UK.

[i]NEHEM (2013) National Eye Health Epidemiological Model. Data and models by Public Health Action Support Team, published by Local Optical Committee Support Unit; and Office for National Statistics (2015) 2014-based National Population Projections: Principle projections.

[ii] Global Prevalence of Glaucoma and Projections of Glaucoma Burden through 2040 : A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Yih-Chung Tham, BSc Hons, Xiang Li, BSc, Tien Y. Wong, FRCS, PhD, Harry A. Quigley,MD, Tin Aung, FRCS (Ed), PhD, Ching-Yu Cheng, MD, PhD

[iv] “Cases of advanced visual field loss at referral to glaucoma clinics – more men than women?”, David P Crabb, Luke J. Saunders, Laura A. Edwards, Publ 9 Nov 2016.


About World Glaucoma Week

World Glaucoma Week is organised by the World Glaucoma Association and World Glaucoma Patient Association.Both the WGA and WGPA were created to minimise visual disability from glaucoma, and to improve the lives of glaucoma patients around the world. The WGA works to optimise the quality of glaucoma science and care through communication and cooperation among national and regional Glaucoma Societies, with companies involved with glaucoma, glaucoma patient organisations and others in the glaucoma community. The WGPA works globally to encourage the establishment of and cooperation among national Glaucoma Patient Associations. The group serves as an umbrella organisation to provide useful information to individuals, health care providers and support groups that are devoted to the fight against glaucoma.


12-18 June 2017, National Glaucoma Awareness Week 

The IGA runs its own national public awareness week in June: National Glaucoma Awareness Week. It highlights a topical and relevant issue based on the calls that we receive to our helpline.

This year we are focusing on eye pressure and the link to glaucoma. Pressure checked? #GetEyeWise campaign packs will be available from the beginning of April. To register interest contact: For press, media and partner requests contact: For fundraising contact: J.McCarthy@iga.or.guk  

To keep up to date with activity, check our website, like us on Facebook and follow us on @TweetIGA


18-24 September 2017, National Eye Health Week 

The IGA sits on the steering committee for National Eye Health Week (NEHW) which is now in its eight year, and will be taking place 18-24 September 2016. Once again, eye care charities, organisations and health professionals from across the UK are joining together to promote the importance of eye health and the need for regular sight tests for all.

Last year's campaign focussed on the important role that eye drops play in saving sight, and how to take them correctly. Use your eye drops! information can be found by clicking here.

For information about past campaigns