News

  • How visual conditions including glaucoma affect sight

    The International Glaucoma Association (IGA) provided advice and comment on what London looks like through the eyes of someone with glaucoma. To read the full article click on the link below.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3439196/From-glaucoma-cataracts-Gifs-let-eyes-visually-impaired.html

    Regular eye health checks are vital to detect glaucoma which often has no symptoms in the early stages.

    Read more

  • Glaucoma and relatives, help to save sight

    “Family Foresight” Raising awareness of glaucoma amongst relatives and the need for regular health checks

    This year’s National Glaucoma Awareness campaign (6-12 June 2016) focuses on the need for regular eye health checks for parents, children, brothers and sisters, if glaucoma has been diagnosed in the family. Close relatives are four times more likely to develop the condition, when compared to someone without a family history. We believe that everyone should have regular eye health checks, at least every two years and will be working with optometrists, eye clinic staff, voluntary groups and people across the country to help prevent people losing sight unnecessarily.

    It is estimated that there are 600,000 people in the UK with glaucoma, but half have not been diagnosed. Globally, it is the leading cause of irreversible blindness and the number of people with glaucoma is increasing [64 million people today, rising to 76 million by 2020].

    In the UK, glaucoma is the most common cause of preventable blindness, yet many people are unaware that the condition has no symptoms in the early stages.. But, if left untreated glaucoma can lead to serious loss of vision, with up to 40 per cent of sight being permanently lost before the effects are noticed. Once sight is lost it cannot be recovered.

    Eye health checks if you have relatives with glaucoma

     

    Close relatives in England, Wales and Northern Ireland can have a sight test and examination by an optometrist which is paid for by the NHS if they are aged over 40, and everyone is entitled to free eye tests over the age of 60. In Scotland, the NHS will pay for examinations offered by optometrists, regardless of age.

    The IGA funds pioneering research into the detection, management and treatment of glaucoma, and provides free patient information, literature and advice.

    For more information about the week, or get receive a pack of information please contact: marketing@iga.org.uk; or call: 01233 64 81 64.

    Read more

  • Response from the International Glaucoma Association (IGA) about Faulty visual field machine used for DVLA fitness to drive tests.

    Comments Russell Young, CEO, International Glaucoma Association (IGA):

    “The IGA is extremely concerned that a fault with one of the machines used to assess a person’s fitness to drive will have led to some people with glaucoma having their driving licence wrongly revoked. The DVLA requires a visual field test to assess whether a driver with glaucoma is safe to drive.

    “Relinquishing a driving licence is an emotional issue that can have a major impact on the driver's quality of life. For some it can mean loss of employment and for many it means the loss of independence.

    “We know people with glaucoma find the DVLA visual field test difficult and stressful. The equipment varies across testing optometrists and is different to the usual visual field test patients experience in hospitals. It is vital people have absolute confidence in this test. It has to be carried out on equipment that has been scrupulously tested, be supervised by qualified people and carried out in a quiet location, without interruptions, to provide the applicant with the best chance of taking and passing the test.

    “The DVLA has advised the IGA that all those affected have been contacted and offered a re-test on a different machine. We urge anyone that has been notified to take up this offer to see if their licence can be reinstated.

    “We will continue to work with the DVLA to follow up on this issue, and to see what more can be done to improve the experience of people with glaucoma when re-applying for their licence.”

    The International Glaucoma Association is the charity for people with glaucoma, providing a free helpline and patient literature. Call 01233 64 81 70 or email: info@iga.org.uk. www.glaucoma-association.com

    -ends-

    For further information about the test equipment and the action that DVLA is taking please contact the DVLA press office on 01792 78 20 77.

    For further information about glaucoma and its impact on driving, contact IGA helpline on 01233 64 81 70 or email: info@iga.org.uk, or search the IGA website: www.glaucoma-assocation.com.

    For press enquiries please contact: Karen Brewer, 01233 64 81 69 or mobile: 07976 08 52 40

    Read more

  • National Eye Health Week: International Glaucoma Association Calls on Drivers Over 45 to Get Their Eyes Tested

    The International Glaucoma Association (IGA) is calling on all drivers over 45 to get their eye sight tested, by asking them to consider their safety and that of their passengers and other road users. As part of the IGA’s ‘Are You Safe to Drive’ campaign, the focus for this year’s National Eye Health Week* (21-27 September) is the millions of drivers over the age of 45 that could be risking losing their driving licence and who could be a danger on the roads by not taking an eye test every 1-2 years as recommended. A recent survey by the IGA** showed that 18% of the 1,000 over 45s surveyed said they had either not had an eye test in the last five years, or had never had one at all, with marked difference between men and women (21 per cent versus 16 per cent).
    With the autumn equinox on 23rd September heralding the darkening winter nights and the clocks due to go back on 25th October, the IGA points out that driving at night is when many people find that their eye sight is not as good as it should be. A recent survey by the Eyecare Trust and Westfield health insurers found that more than half of Britain’s 34 million motorists struggle to see when driving after dark, whilst many more avoid driving at night altogether. A separate three-year study conducted by Zurich found that accidents increased by 11 per cent in the fortnight directly after the clocks go back, compared to the preceding two weeks.
    The recent IGA survey showed that financial considerations can prevent many people from having an eye test, as 36% of those surveyed said the reason they don’t take an eye test is that they worry about the cost. Patients living in the most deprived areas of the UK are predicted to be diagnosed with twice as much vision loss compared to those from the least deprived regions. The IGA together with the College of Optometrists is therefore announcing an 18 month research project in association with Deanna Taylor and Professor David Crabb of City University London, to hold pop up glaucoma testing clinics to see if public engagement or detection rate of suspect glaucoma is greater in ‘deprived’ areas, compared to more ‘prosperous’ areas.
    Russell Young, CEO of the IGA comments, ‘For this year’s National Eye Health Week we are asking all drivers, especially those over the age of 45, to have regular eye health checks through a local optometrist (optician) to ensure they are safe to drive. We are delighted that Vision Express is offering free eye tests to anyone visiting its stores during the week.’
    Continues Young: ‘We know that cost of eye tests can put people off having an eye test, so this National Eye Health Week we are pleased to announce our pop up eye clinic research study.

    Results from this work will be used to show that glaucoma detection is a public health challenge, while the pop up clinic itself will be an opportunity for us to educate the public about glaucoma and the importance of regular eye tests and to provide information about local optometrists.’
    Professor David Crabb of City University London comments ‘Retail pop up booths in high streets and in shopping centres are common – we propose one for glaucoma! The idea is to move glaucoma detection to communities that we think are hard to reach. The IGA funding is absolutely brilliant because it allows us to pilot the feasibility of glaucoma testing on the high street – literally!’
    Glaucoma and Driving
    With a sight loss condition such as glaucoma, drivers won’t know that they are putting their passengers at risk unless they have regular eye health checks. There are no early symptoms of glaucoma and the condition is more common in people over the age of 40. There is at least a four times increased risk of developing glaucoma if you have a close blood relative with the condition (father, mother, brother, sister, or child). People with glaucoma that has caused damage to vision in both eyes are required by law to report their condition to the DVLA. If they fail to do so they can face a criminal conviction, a fine up to £1000 and may be uninsured to drive. The IGA survey showed 5% of those surveyed wouldn’t report glaucoma to the DVLA if advised by a health professional, either because they think it would stop them from driving, or because they don’t think they need to.
    Around 10 per cent of the calls to the IGA helpline (01233 648 178) are from people worried about whether their glaucoma is going to affect their ability to drive. Fortunately the majority of those that report to the DVLA will not need further tests, and of those that do, the majority will be found safe to drive
    The IGA has a leaflet on glaucoma and driving, which is approved by the DVLA, which can be accessed by visiting www.glaucoma-association.com or via Sightline by calling 01233 64 81 78
    -ENDS-
    Note to editors:

    Glaucoma
    Glaucoma is the name given to a group of eye conditions in which the main nerve to the eye (the optic nerve) is damaged where it leaves the eye. This nerve carries information about what is being seen from the eye to the brain and as it becomes damaged vision is lost.

    *National Eye Health Week
    National Eye Health Week is an annual event where eye care charities, organisations and health professionals from across the UK join together to promote the importance of eye health and the need for regular sight tests for all.
    **The survey was commissioned by the IGA through Red Dot Research on 14-19 May 2015 among more than 1,000 people over the age of 45 nationwide.
    * Available on request.
    For further information or to interview an IGA spokesperson, please contact:
    Annabel Hillary, 07884 430862, annabel@prwhenyouneedit.co.uk
    Or Mary-Jane Greenhalgh, 07866 722051, maryjane@prwhenyouneedit.co.uk
    or Karen Brewer on: DD: 01233 64 81 69; M: 07976 08 52 40; k.brewer@iga.org.uk,

    For more information about glaucoma, visit: www.glaucoma-association.com
    About the International Glaucoma Association:
    1. The International Glaucoma Association (IGA) is the charity for people with glaucoma, with the mission 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:
    www.glaucoma-association.com
    2. Set up in 1974, it is the oldest patient based glaucoma association in the world and it is a Charity Registered in Scotland, England & Wales.
    3. As part of its support services, it operates the IGA Sightline (helpline) and provides free information on any aspect of glaucoma.
    4. For more information about glaucoma, contact the International Glaucoma Association (IGA) Sightline on 01233 64 81 78 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am–5.00pm).

    Read more

  • National Eye Health Week: International Glaucoma Association Announces New Research Projects

    The International Glaucoma Association (IGA) announces five new joint research projects during National Eye Health Week* (21-27 September) in a bid to improve treatments and quality of life for glaucoma patients.

    Evaluation of Virtual Clinics for Glaucoma Care

    A two year joint study with the UK and Eire Glaucoma Society is being conducted by Robert Harper, Optometrist Consultant of Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, to evaluate patients’ and clinicians’ experiences of virtual monitoring clinics in the UK.

    The past decade has seen different measures to monitor glaucoma patients with a number of NHS Trusts using ‘Virtual Clinics’ as part of the solution, where data is collected on the day a patient visits either a hospital or a community clinic, often using electronic patient records which are then analysed by an expert clinician without the patient being there. Very little is known about patients’ experiences and perceptions of virtual clinics, or about clinicians’ opinions of them and the Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust study will investigate this through online surveys, focus groups and interviews.

    Commenting on the study, Robert Harper of Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust says: ‘It is so fundamental to collate both the patient and practitioner viewpoints to inform the way in which we run our clinics and this virtual clinic research aims to address key deficiencies in information in this respect.’

    Patients’ and Carers’ Perspectives of Managing Glaucoma when Living with Dementia

    A joint research study with the Royal College of Nursing is being run by Professor Heather Waterman of the University of Manchester to better understand how people living with dementia manage a sight threatening condition such as glaucoma. About one in four people who have severe visual impairment from glaucoma also have a diagnosis of dementia. It is more difficult to assess and treat glaucoma when people also live with dementia and together they compound feelings of distress and disorientation.

    This study aims to support the development of clinical guidance on how glaucoma services can be improved to meet the needs of people living with dementia.

    Mitochondrial Dysfunction in the Commonest Form of Glaucoma’

    The IGA and the UK and Eire Glaucoma Society (UKEGS) is funding research by Dr Neeru Vallabh of the University of Liverpool to understand the role mitochondrial defects and mutations play in the development of the commonest form of glaucoma: primary open angle glaucoma (POAG).

    A few studies have detected evidence of mitochondrial gene defects in glaucoma. New gene sequencing techniques have emerged which lend themselves to the study of mitochondrial genetics. A pilot study in 30 glaucoma patients which has just been published used this technology to detect disease causing DNA mutation in 50% of the patients. The new IGA and UKEGS study aims to build on this work and investigate the effect these mutations have on the development of glaucoma.

    Dr Vallabh explains: ‘Our lack of understanding of the causes of glaucoma is a major obstacle to the development of new therapeutic approaches for this significant condition. Identifying the role of mitochondrial defects and mutations in the development of glaucoma will increase our understanding of this common, sight-threatening condition.’

    Quality of life assessment in glaucoma patients undergoing glaucoma surgery

    The IGA and the UK and Eire Glaucoma Society (UKEGS) is funding research by Professor King of the Nottingham University Hospital to profile the quality of life of glaucoma patients at different stages of treatment. The study will look at whether patients’ personalities affect the outcome of their glaucoma treatment and will allow comparisons between alternative glaucoma approaches. This will enable clinicians to include accurate information in discussions about surgical options available and in patient information about proposed treatments.

    Professor King explains: ‘Quality of Life is a measure of the patient’s health and this is affected by the medical conditions from which they suffer and the treatments they experience. In glaucoma many patients require glaucoma surgery, and, in addition to undergoing an operation, this also results in frequent hospital visits and often a very intensive eye drop regime. Understanding the way glaucoma interventions impact on a patient’s quality of life and the different impacts of the various available interventions would be helpful in counselling patients prior to surgery and informing their expectations.’

    Finding glaucoma in the high street – a pop up pilot project

    Risk of visual impairment from glaucoma is greatest in those patients detected at a late stage of the disease. Also patients living in the most deprived areas of the UK, as estimated by postcode data, are predicted to be diagnosed with twice as much vision loss compared to those from the least deprived regions. The IGA together with the College of Optometrists is funding an 18 month research project in association with Deanna Taylor and Professor David Crabb of City University London, to hold pop up glaucoma testing clinics to see if public engagement or detection rate of suspect glaucoma is greater in ‘deprived’ areas, compared to more ‘prosperous’ areas.

    Professor Crabb of City University London comments ‘Retail pop up booths in high streets and in shopping centres are common – we propose one for glaucoma! The idea is to move glaucoma detection to communities that we think are hard to reach. The IGA funding allows us to pilot the feasibility of glaucoma testing on the high street – literally!’

    Commenting on the new research projects, CEO of the IGA Russell Young says, ’We are delighted to be announcing these pioneering research projects during National Eye Health Week, which will help improve the management and daily lives of glaucoma patients. Each research project will add a different level if understanding of the experience of glaucoma patients and will help inform development of new treatments. ’

    -ENDS-

    Note to editors:

    Glaucoma

    Glaucoma is the name given to a group of eye conditions in which the main nerve to the eye (the optic nerve) is damaged where it leaves the eye. This nerve carries information about what is being seen from the eye to the brain and as it becomes damaged vision is lost.

    *National Eye Health Week

    National Eye Health Week is an annual event where eye care charities, organisations and health professionals from across the UK join together to promote the importance of eye health and the need for regular sight tests for all.

    **The survey was commissioned by the IGA through Red Dot Research on 14-19 May 2015 among more than 1,000 people over the age of 45 nationwide.

    * available on request.

    For further information or to interview an IGA spokesperson, please contact:

    Annabel Hillary, 07884 430862, annabel@prwhenyouneedit.co.uk

    or Mary-Jane Greenhalgh, 07866 722051, maryjane@prwhenyouneedit.co.uk

    or Karen Brewer on: DD: 01233 64 81 69; M: 07976 08 52 40; k.brewer@iga.org.uk,

    For more information about glaucoma, visit: www.glaucoma-association.com

    About the International Glaucoma Association:

    1. The International Glaucoma Association (IGA) is the charity for people with glaucoma, with the mission 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:

    www.glaucoma-association.com

    1. Set up in 1974, it is the oldest patient based glaucoma association in the world and it is a Charity Registered in Scotland, England & Wales.
    2. As part of its support services, it operates the IGA Sightline (helpline) and provides free information on any aspect of glaucoma.
    3. For more information about glaucoma, contact the International Glaucoma Association (IGA) Sightline on 01233 64 81 78 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am–5.00pm).

    Read more

  • National Eye Health Week: International Glaucoma Association Announces New Nottingham Research Project

    The International Glaucoma Association (IGA) announces a new Nottingham based research project during National Eye Health Week* (21-27 September) in a bid to improve treatments and quality of life for glaucoma patients.
    Quality of life assessment in glaucoma patients undergoing glaucoma surgery
    The IGA and the UK and Eire Glaucoma Society (UKEGS) is funding research by Professor Anthony King of Nottingham University Hospital to profile the quality of life of glaucoma patients at different stages of treatment. The study will look at whether patients’ personalities affect the outcome of their glaucoma treatment and will allow comparisons between alternative glaucoma approaches. This will enable clinicians to include accurate information in discussions about surgical options available and in patient information about proposed treatments.
    Professor King explains: ‘Quality of Life is a measure of the patient’s health and this is affected by the medical conditions from which they suffer and the treatments they experience. In glaucoma many patients require glaucoma surgery, and, in addition to undergoing an operation, this also results in frequent hospital visits and often a very intensive eye drop regime. Understanding the way glaucoma interventions impact on a patient’s quality of life and the different impacts of the various available interventions would be helpful in counselling patients prior to surgery and informing their expectations.’
    .’

    …/contd

    Commenting on the new University of Nottingham research project, CEO of the IGA Russell Young says, ’We are delighted to be announcing this new research project during National Eye Health Week, which will potentially help improve the quality of life of patients’ undergoing glaucoma treatment. Professor King is extremely well respected in ophthalmology and we are delighted to be working with him on this glaucoma research project.’
    -ENDS-
    Note to editors:

    Glaucoma
    Glaucoma is the name given to a group of eye conditions in which the main nerve to the eye (the optic nerve) is damaged where it leaves the eye. This nerve carries information about what is being seen from the eye to the brain and as it becomes damaged vision is lost.

    *National Eye Health Week
    National Eye Health Week is an annual event where eye care charities, organisations and health professionals from across the UK join together to promote the importance of eye health and the need for regular sight tests for all.
    For further information or to interview an IGA spokesperson, please contact:
    Annabel Hillary, 07884 430862, annabel@prwhenyouneedit.co.uk
    or Mary-Jane Greenhalgh, 07866 722051, maryjane@prwhenyouneedit.co.uk
    or Karen Brewer on: DD: 01233 64 81 69; M: 07976 08 52 40; k.brewer@iga.org.uk,

    For more information about glaucoma, visit: www.glaucoma-association.com
    About the International Glaucoma Association:
    1. The International Glaucoma Association (IGA) is the charity for people with glaucoma, with the mission 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:
    www.glaucoma-association.com
    2. Set up in 1974, it is the oldest patient based glaucoma association in the world and it is a Charity Registered in Scotland, England & Wales.
    3. As part of its support services, it operates the IGA Sightline (helpline) and provides free information on any aspect of glaucoma.
    4. For more information about glaucoma, contact the International Glaucoma Association (IGA) Sightline ( Helpline ) on 01233 64 81 78 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am–5.00pm).

    Read more

  • National Eye Health Week: International Glaucoma Association Announces New Manchester Research Projects

    The International Glaucoma Association (IGA) announces two Manchester based research projects during National Eye Health Week* (21-27 September) in a bid to improve treatments and quality of life for glaucoma patients.
    Evaluation of Virtual clinics for Glaucoma Care
    A two year joint study with the UK and Eire Glaucoma Society is being conducted by Robert Harper, Optometrist Consultant of Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, to evaluate patients’ and clinicians’ experiences of virtual monitoring clinics in the UK.
    The past decade has seen different measures to monitor glaucoma patients with a number of NHS Trusts using ‘Virtual Clinics’ as part of the solution, where data is collected on the day a patient visits either a hospital or a community clinic, often using electronic patient records which are then analysed by an expert clinician without the patient being there. Very little is known about patients’ experiences and perceptions of virtual clinics, or about clinicians’ opinions of them and the Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust study will investigate this through online surveys, focus groups and interviews.
    Commenting on the study, Robert Harper of Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust says: ‘It is so fundamental to collate both the patient and practitioner viewpoints to inform the way in which we run our clinics and this virtual clinic research aims to address key deficiencies in information in this respect.’
    Patients’ and Carers’ Perspectives of Managing Glaucoma when Living with Dementia
    A joint research study with the Royal College of Nursing is being run by Professor Heather Waterman of the University of Manchester to better understand how people living with dementia manage a sight threatening condition such as glaucoma. About one in four people who have severe visual impairment from glaucoma also have a diagnosis of dementia. It is more difficult to assess and treat glaucoma when people also live with dementia and together they compound feelings of distress and disorientation.
    This study aims to support the development of clinical guidance on how glaucoma services can be improved to meet the needs of people living with dementia.
    Commenting on the new research projects, CEO of the IGA Russell Young says, ’We are delighted to be announcing two new research projects during National Eye Health Week, which will may improve the management and daily lives of glaucoma patients. Robert Harper of Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Professor Heather Waterman of the University of Manchester are both extremely highly respected in optometry and we are delighted to be working with them on these crucial glaucoma research projects.’
    -ENDS-
    Note to editors:

    Glaucoma
    Glaucoma is the name given to a group of eye conditions in which the main nerve to the eye (the optic nerve) is damaged where it leaves the eye. This nerve carries information about what is being seen from the eye to the brain and as it becomes damaged vision is lost.

    *National Eye Health Week
    National Eye Health Week is an annual event where eye care charities, organisations and health professionals from across the UK join together to promote the importance of eye health and the need for regular sight tests for all.
    **The survey was commissioned by the IGA through Red Dot Research on 14-19 May 2015 among more than 1,000 people over the age of 45 nationwide.
    * available on request.
    For further information or to interview an IGA spokesperson, please contact:
    Annabel Hillary, 07884 430862, annabel@prwhenyouneedit.co.uk
    or Mary-Jane Greenhalgh, 07866 722051, maryjane@prwhenyouneedit.co.uk
    or Karen Brewer on: DD: 01233 64 81 69; M: 07976 08 52 40; k.brewer@iga.org.uk,

    For more information about glaucoma, visit: www.glaucoma-association.com
    About the International Glaucoma Association:
    1. The International Glaucoma Association (IGA) is the charity for people with glaucoma, with the mission 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:
    www.glaucoma-association.com
    2. Set up in 1974, it is the oldest patient based glaucoma association in the world and it is a Charity Registered in Scotland, England & Wales.
    3. As part of its support services, it operates the IGA Sightline (helpline) and provides free information on any aspect of glaucoma.
    4. For more information about glaucoma, contact the International Glaucoma Association (IGA) Sightline on 01233 64 81 78 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am–5.00pm).

    Read more

  • National Eye Health Week: International Glaucoma Association Announces New Liverpool Research Project

    The International Glaucoma Association (IGA) announces a new Liverpool based research projects during National Eye Health Week* (21-27 September) in a bid to improve treatments and quality of life for glaucoma patients.
    Mitochondrial Dysfunction in the Commonest Form of Glaucoma’
    The IGA and the UK and Eire Glaucoma Society (UKEGS) is funding research by Dr Neeru Vallabh of the University of Liverpool to understand the role mitochondrial defects and mutations play in the development of the commonest form of glaucoma: primary open angle glaucoma (POAG).
    A few studies have detected evidence of mitochondrial gene defects in glaucoma. New gene sequencing techniques have emerged which lend themselves to the study of mitochondrial genetics. A pilot study in 30 glaucoma patients which has just been published used this technology to detect disease causing DNA mutation in 50% of the patients. The new IGA and UKEGS study aims to build on this work and investigate the effect these mutations have on the development of glaucoma.

    Dr Vallabh explains: ‘Our lack of understanding of the causes of glaucoma is a major obstacle to the development of new therapeutic approaches for this significant condition. Identifying the role of mitochondrial defects and mutations in the development of glaucoma will increase our understanding of this common, sight-threatening condition.’

    …/contd

    Commenting on the new Liverpool University research project, CEO of the IGA Russell Young says, ’We are delighted to be announcing this new research project during National Eye Health Week, which may help inform the development of new treatments for glaucoma patients. Dr Vallabh of the University of Liverpool is extremely respected in ophthalmology and we are delighted to be working with her on this pioneering glaucoma research project.’
    -ENDS-
    Note to editors:

    Glaucoma
    Glaucoma is the name given to a group of eye conditions in which the main nerve to the eye (the optic nerve) is damaged where it leaves the eye. This nerve carries information about what is being seen from the eye to the brain and as it becomes damaged vision is lost.

    *National Eye Health Week
    National Eye Health Week is an annual event where eye care charities, organisations and health professionals from across the UK join together to promote the importance of eye health and the need for regular sight tests for all.
    For further information or to interview an IGA spokesperson, please contact:
    Annabel Hillary, 07884 430862, annabel@prwhenyouneedit.co.uk
    or Mary-Jane Greenhalgh, 07866 722051, maryjane@prwhenyouneedit.co.uk
    or Karen Brewer on: DD: 01233 64 81 69; M: 07976 08 52 40; k.brewer@iga.org.uk,

    For more information about glaucoma, visit: www.glaucoma-association.com
    About the International Glaucoma Association:
    1. The International Glaucoma Association (IGA) is the charity for people with glaucoma, with the mission 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:
    www.glaucoma-association.com
    2. Set up in 1974, it is the oldest patient based glaucoma association in the world and it is a Charity Registered in Scotland, England & Wales.
    3. As part of its support services, it operates the IGA Sightline (helpline) and provides free information on any aspect of glaucoma.
    4. For more information about glaucoma, contact the International Glaucoma Association (IGA) Sightline on 01233 64 81 78 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am–5.00pm).

    Read more

  • Tiny tube made of jelly to stop you losing your sight: Implant could help thousands who have glaucoma

    • A gelatine tube that's injected into the eye could help thousands 
    • May be more effective at draining away fluid than other procedures
    • Glaucoma, a condition that affects 600,000 people in Britain
    • Cathy Gosling, 65, from London, had it fitted in March

    It is triggered by fluid building up in the eye, and can lead to blindness if left untreated.

    This new implant - which is 6mm long and the width of a hair - helps drain away the excess liquid.

    As the 15-minute procedure doesn't involve any incisions or stitches, patients are said to recover faster, with less risk of infection than with standard surgery.

    Cathy Gosling, 65, was diagnosed with glaucoma in 2010 during a routine eye check

    Furthermore, the gelatine tube may be more effective at draining away fluid than other minimally invasive procedures. The eye naturally produces a watery fluid that fills the space between the lens and the cornea (the clear dome at the front of the eye), giving the eye its shape and providing it with nutrients. The fluid should drain away through tiny channels.

    However, these channels can stop functioning effectively, though it's not exactly clear why. As a result, fluid can't drain away and pressure builds up inside the eye.

    Over time this pressure damages the optic nerve that transmits visual images to the brain.

    Glaucoma develops slowly, so there may be no noticeable symptoms, but regular eye tests mean it can be detected and treated early to prevent lasting damage.

    Once diagnosed, patients are prescribed eye drops to reduce the pressure, for example by slowing down the production of fluid.

    But drops can stop working as the disease becomes resistant to their effect, meaning alternative treatment is necessary.

    The 'gold standard' procedure is a trabeculectomy. With the patient under anaesthetic, the surgeon cuts into the eye wall to create a new opening - or channel - allowing fluid to drain out.

    But this carries the risks associated with surgery, such as bleeding and infection, and recovery of up to three months.

    There are also treatments where doctors insert a metal tube, or stent, into the eye's existing drainage channel.

    She had the implant fitted in her left eye in March at the same time as having cataract surgery

    She had the implant fitted in her left eye in March at the same time as having cataract surgery

    This form of minimally invasive glaucoma surgery is quicker to perform and non-invasive compared to a trabeculectomy, so has a quicker recovery time (four weeks) and less risk of infection.

    The new Xen Gel stent combines the benefits of trabeculectomy with those of minimally invasive surgery.

    The implant - a small tube - is injected via hypodermic needle to sit just under the skin at the base of the cornea. This gelatine tube is similar in size to the metal tubes already used (which range in size from around 6.35mm to 8mm).

    But unlike a metal stent inserted into an existing drainage channel, this hollow tube forms a new channel for fluid to drain through.

    And because it is made of gelatine, it is better tolerated by the body and less likely to irritate the eye than metal or synthetic materials.

    Because the implant is soft it should cause minimal damage to the cornea - a research paper published in the Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery last year concluded that it caused little disruption to the conjunctiva, the tissue covering the front of the eye.

    'The new implant is the first time that we're able to do something as good as the gold standard, but quicker and safer and more comfortable for patients,' says Vik Sharma, a consultant ophthalmologist at the Royal Free Hospital, North-West London, and clinical director at the London Ophthalmology Centre.

    Another advantage over metal stents, he says, is that the implant creates a new channel in the eye. 'If you're putting a pipe into a channel that's already blocked then studies show this doesn't work effectively,' says Mr Sharma, who has treated more than 60 patients privately with the new implant.

    'With this new way you're not relying on the natural drainage system - you're making a new channel, but without invasive surgery.'

    I was very nervous as it was done under local anaesthetic, but it didn't hurt and I was home within two hours

    Around a third of patients who have the Xen Gel implant will not need eye drops afterwards, compared with half of those who undergo a trabeculectomy, say surgeons.

    Cathy Gosling had the implant fitted in her left eye in March at the same time as having cataract surgery.

    The 65-year-old, who works in publishing, was diagnosed with glaucoma in 2010 during a routine eye check.

    Though she did not have any symptoms and her vision wasn't affected, the check revealed her eye pressure was getting high. A reading of 12 to 22 is normal - Cathy's was 24 to 25.

    Her optician referred Cathy, from East Finchley, North London, to Mr Sharma and the condition was managed for four years with eye drops.

    However, six-monthly check-ups found the pressure was not consistently low enough, which meant that her optic nerve was becoming damaged. A trabeculectomy was not possible because Cathy was on drug-thinning drugs for an unrelated health problem, so couldn't undergo surgery because it raises the risk of bleeding. Mr Sharma suggested the Xen Gel stent.

    After the procedure (which costs £6,000 per eye), Cathy was sent home with eye drops and an eye patch, which she wore for a day. She was back to work within three days.

    'I was very nervous as it was done under local anaesthetic, but it didn't hurt and I was home within two hours of the operation,' says Cathy.

    Glaucoma s triggered by fluid building up in the eye, and can lead to blindness if left untreated (file photo)

    Glaucoma s triggered by fluid building up in the eye, and can lead to blindness if left untreated (file photo)

    'I felt discomfort in my eye for the rest of that day, but took paracetamol and by the following day the pain had subsided.

    'I couldn't see out of my left eye at first, but by the next day my vision was getting back to normal and within a couple of days I could read normally. I can't feel the stent in my eye.'

    Her eye pressure is now normal (15 to 16). Though she is still using eye drops to ensure the pressure doesn't rise again, it is only once a day compared with twice a day before.

    Keith Barton, a consultant ophthalmologist at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London says the new jab is quicker, more comfortable and less invasive than a trabeculectomy, but won't be the best option for all patients.

    'It's not suitable for patients with advanced glaucoma - implant-type procedures are not as effective as a trabeculectomy at lowering eye pressure,' says Mr Barton, who performs the new implant procedure privately and on NHS patients.

    'They only lower it to around 15, and patients with advanced glaucoma need much lower eye pressures because of the damage already caused to the optic nerve.

    'But for others it is the first treatment that offers an alternative to the gold standard.'

    Helen Doe, a nurse from the charity the International Glaucoma Association, welcomed the new procedure, but said it wasn't a 'cure'.

    'Stents are still relatively new, though they're less invasive than a trabeculectomy, so mean a faster recovery time. The question is, what is their longevity?

    'If you're diagnosed at 40, then you could live for another 40 years. Their effects may not last this long.

    'And not all glaucoma is triggered by increased pressure - there are patients who suffer damage to the optic nerve, but tests show their eye pressure is normal - so we need more research into what exactly are the causes behind it.

    'However, the fact it is made of gelatine rather than metal means it is more biocompatible and won't harm living tissue.'

    The International Glaucoma Association helpline is 01233 648170, glaucoma-association.com

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  • 45s Shun Eye Tests Which Could Protect their Driving Licence and Vision

    Millions of drivers over the age of 45 could be risking losing their driving licence and potentially their vision, by not taking an eye test every 1-2 years as recommended by the International Glaucoma Association (IGA). According to a new survey by the IGA, 18% of the 1,000 over 45s surveyed said they had either not had an eye test in the last five years, or had never had one at all. In the regions, 23% of Scots, 25% of those in Northern Ireland and 24% in the East Midlands haven’t had an eye test in the last five years, or have never had one at all compared with the national average of 18%. The survey also showed a marked difference between men and women, as 21% of men said they hadn’t had an eye test in the last two years, compared with 16% of women.

    The IGA commissioned the survey for National Glaucoma Awareness Week (8th-14th June 2015). This year’s campaign, ‘Can You See to Drive?’, encourages people to have regular eye health checks to ensure that they are safe to drive. It is only with regular eye health checks through a local optometrist (optician) that people will know if their driving vision is affected. This is particularly important with glaucoma as it has no symptoms in the early stages, but, with early detection and continued treatment people will often retain useful sight for life and will be safe to drive for many years. In fact only 24% of those surveyed correctly knew there are no early symptoms of glaucoma.

    There are an estimated 600,000 people with glaucoma in the UK, but 300,000 are undiagnosed. Advanced glaucoma leads to serious loss of sight. As there are no early symptoms of the condition, it is vital people over the age of 40 have regular eye health checks every one or two years.

    The IGA survey suggests that lack of time and money could be preventing people from having eye tests, as when asked for reasons for not having an eye test, 15% of those surveyed said it takes too much time, 11% said they don’t think they need a test and 36% worry about the cost. Men are more likely than women to think they don’t need an eye test: 17% compared with 7%.

    In the regions Scots are most likely to say they don’t have time for an eye test (22% compared with national average of 15%), while Londoners are most likely to think they don’t need an eye test (20% compared with the national average of 11%). Those in East Midlands are more likely to say they worry about the cost of a test (46% compared with the national average of 36%)

    People with glaucoma that has caused damage to vision in both eyes are required by law to report their condition to the DVLA. If they fail to do so they can face a criminal conviction, a fine up to £1000 and may be uninsured to drive. The IGA is concerned that its survey showed 5% of those surveyed wouldn’t report glaucoma to the DVLA if advised by a health professional, either because they think it would stop them from driving, or because they don’t think they need to and men are much more likely than women to withhold information from the DVLA: 10% and 3% respectively. In the regions 16% of those in Northern Ireland and 13% of Londoners would not report glaucoma to the DVLA, compared with the national average of 5%.

    No less worrying was the fact that 6% of men surveyed said they have had, or nearly had, a car accident owing to their own, or someone else’s poor sight, compared with just 2% of women who said this.

    Russell Young, CEO of the International Glaucoma Association comments, “The majority of us wouldn’t take our cars on the road without an annual service and MOT yet, we are happy to put ourselves behind the wheel without knowing if we can see safely to drive. A visit to the optometrist will quickly check our vision safety and detect if there is any risk of glaucoma. Without regular checks the condition can go unnoticed, causing serious sight loss and the possible loss of a driving licence.”

    “Around 10 per cent of the calls we receive to our helpline (01233 648 178) are from people worried about whether their glaucoma is going to affect their ability to drive. Yet the majority of those that report to the DVLA will not need further tests, and of those that do, the majority will be found safe to drive”, Young concludes.

    Glaucoma – What You Need to Know:
    • Glaucoma is the name given to a group of eye conditions in which the main nerve to the eye (the optic nerve) is damaged where it leaves the eye. This nerve carries information about what is being seen from the eye to the brain and as it becomes damaged vision is lost
    • Glaucoma is more common in people over the age of 40. There is at least a four times increased risk of developing glaucoma if you have a close blood relative with the condition (father, mother, brother, sister, or child)
    • There are no early symptoms of glaucoma
    • Symptoms of advanced glaucoma include missing, patchy vision and even serious loss of vision
    • Regular eye health checks (every two years, or every 1-2 years for over 40s) will detect conditions such as glaucoma, which is important given there are no early symptoms
    • With regular treatment for glaucoma, vision and driving licences can be protected
    • Most people with glaucoma will be safe to drive for many years, but it important to alert the DVLA to the condition if advised by an ophthalmologist
    • The majority of people (nine out of 10) who report glaucoma to the DVLA will be passed as safe to drive (DVLA 2013*)
    • The IGA has a leaflet on glaucoma and driving, which is approved by the DVLA, which can be accessed by visiting www.glaucoma-association.com or via Sightline by calling 01233 64 81 78
    • The IGA is working with Vision Express in raising awareness of glaucoma during National Glaucoma Awareness Week. Activity includes placement of promotional posters, leaflets and collection boxes in Vision Express’ 390 stores nationwide

    -ENDS-

    Note to editors:
    The survey was commissioned by the IGA through Red Dot Research on 14-19 May 2015 among more than 1,000 people over the age of 45 nationwide.
    * available on request.

    For further information or to interview an IGA spokesperson, please contact:
    Annabel Hillary, 07884 430862, annabel@prwhenyouneedit.co.uk
    or Mary-Jane Greenhalgh, 07866 722051, maryjane@prwhenyouneedit.co.uk
    or Karen Brewer on: DD: 01233 64 81 69; M: 07976 08 52 40; k.brewer@iga.org.uk,

    About the International Glaucoma Association:
    1. The International Glaucoma Association (IGA) is the charity for people with glaucoma, with the mission 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: www.glaucoma-association.com
    2. Set up in 1974, it is the oldest patient based glaucoma association in the world and it is a Charity Registered in Scotland, Northern Ireland, England & Wales.
    3. As part of its support services, it operates the IGA Sightline (helpline) and provides free information on any aspect of glaucoma.
    4. For more information about glaucoma, contact the International Glaucoma Association (IGA) Sightline on 01233 64 81 78 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am–5.00pm).

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