Glaucoma education

  • Specsavers and IGA partnership to raise glaucoma awareness

    PRESS RELEASE
    17 February 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 and more than 64 million people worldwide making it the leading cause of irreversible blindness globally .

    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 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 , 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 . 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 – remain undiagnosed and are unaware that they are 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.

    - ends -

    Image – Optometrist performs glaucoma assessment

    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: www.glaucoma-association.com
    • 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 notes to editors:
    • 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.

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  • IGA Response to Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) Driven to despair, “How drivers have been let down by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency”, 20 October 2016

    Comments Karen Osborn, Chief Executive International Glaucoma Association

    “The IGA welcomes the findings and recommendations in the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) report, and in particular the need for clear evidence-based standards to assess whether people with glaucoma are fit to drive.

    The IGA has been alerted to many of the issues covered in this report by our members. This has led to a positive relationship being developed with the DVLA Drivers Medical Group, resulting in improvements around administration and communication. There is now clearer information about the tests and testing conditions that drivers with glaucoma should expect when visiting the DVLA approved Specsavers store, when a person can seek a second opinion if a licence is revoked (and the process for this), as well as a named contact at the DVLA for people with glaucoma to approach about their application.

    But more scientific research and evaluation is needed to decide whether one of the standards used to assess the ability of people with glaucoma to drive safely, called the visual field test, is fit for purpose.  When a decision to revoke a licence is life-changing, the applicant must have confidence that the test being used is appropriate, robust and equitable.

    We are concerned that statistics from the DVLA show that 62 per cent of car drivers and 35 per cent of bus, lorry and coach drivers’ who contest the original revocation decision, are subsequently found safe to drive. If the Government and the DVLA were to invest in more realistic tests of visual function, this would benefit not just drivers with glaucoma but patients with, or at risk of all types of visual disability.

    If anyone feels that a driving licence revocation has been made that does not reflect their own understanding of their safety to drive, we urge them to discuss this with their own optometrist and then talk to the DVLA. Our helpline, Sightline can provide details of the process”.

    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

     Click here for a copy of the report.

    -ends-

     

    Notes for editors:

    • *references available

    For further information or to interview an IGA spokesperson, please contact: Karen Brewer, Head of Communications on: 01223 64 81 69 or email k.brewer@iga.org.uk

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  • IGA and SeeAbility introduce new eye drops for glaucoma fact sheet

    The International Glaucoma Association (IGA)  and the charity SeeAbility have introduced a new easy to read fact sheet. It shows how to put eye drops for glaucoma into the eye correctly. The fact sheet contains clear photographs and descriptions of how to use the eye drop bottles and how to place a drop in the eye. It also covers what devices are available to help, and where to go for further help and advice.

    Karen Brewer, Head of Communications at IGA, said: "We hope that the fact sheet will be useful for a wide range of audiences. This includes anyone who needs eye drops for glaucoma, or people who care or work with someone who needs assistance.

    "One of the most common reasons for people defaulting from glaucoma treatment, is due to difficulty in using their eye drops. As it is the eye drops which are helping to control the pressure in the eye, this can mean that damage from glaucoma will continue, which can cause further loss of sight. There are many different aids that are available. The IGA Sightline can help advise on the correct aid for each particular drop. You can just call 01233 64 81 70. You can also visit our website shop where all the aids are available to view and purchase.

    eye drops for glaucoma After using the eye drop, close your eye gently and press softly on the inside corner of your eye for 1 minute.

    SeeAbility registered charity

    SeeAbility is a specialist national registered charity enriching the lives of people who have sight loss and other disabilities, including learning and physical disabilities, mental health difficulties, acquired brain injury and life limiting conditions.

    You can download a copy of the SeeAbility and IGA glaucoma fact sheet.

     

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  • IGA response to Royal College of Ophthalmologists increasing demand on hospital eye services

    People with glaucoma are increasingly being let down by eye clinic departments with cancelled appointments as they are being overwhelmed by an increase in the number of patients being diagnosed and living with glaucoma. The impact this can have on a person with glaucoma is significant. Glaucoma often occurs because of raised pressure in the eye, which leads to damage to the optic nerve, causing sight loss. Once sight is lost from glaucoma, it cannot be recovered. Life-long treatment, often in the form of eye drops, is needed in order to control eye pressure.

    Increasingdemand

     

    Patients will be under the care of an Ophthalmologist (Eye care Consultant) at the hospital to monitor and treat their condition. This often involves changes to eye drop medication, and can lead to laser or surgical treatment. Without appropriate and timely care, a glaucoma patient can irretrievably lose sight having a significant negative impact on their quality of life.
    Comments Russell Young, CEO IGA: “We know from our helpline, and from our own visits to hospital departments, a significant number of patients suffer from delayed or postponed appointments on a regular basis. This is unacceptable. People with glaucoma are often elderly, and feel uncomfortable about challenging the health system. We urge them to act, and to either contact the eye health department themselves or request a friend or relative to do so on their behalf. It is vital that appointments are made and kept”.
    The IGA is a member of the Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning Group which provides recommendations to the NHS about how services can be re-organised to ensure patients are cared for correctly and appropriately. The IGA supports the Royal College of Ophthalmologists in the need for better data collection, better monitoring of eye health services and better use of qualified staff. This includes optometrists, ophthalmic nurses, ECLO’s, orthoptists and pharmacists who can all play a vital role in supporting people who have been diagnosed and living with glaucoma.

    -ends-
    For further information about IGA and glaucoma, contact: Karen Brewer, 01233 64 81 69 or email: k.brewer@iga.org.uk

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  • Professor of Ophthalmology for Glaucoma and Allied Studies takes up position as European Glaucoma Society Vice President

    Professor David (Ted) Garway-Heath, the IGA Professor of Ophthalmology for Glaucoma and Allied Studies, has been appointed Vice President of the European Glaucoma Society (EGS) and takes up his full position in 2016. His first meeting as Vice President of the EGS takes place at the annual meeting in June 2016.

    Glaucoma research professor

    Professor Garway Health is based at University College London (UCL) and is Theme Leader for Vision Assessment and Imaging at the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre based at Moorfields Eye Hospital and University City London Institute of Ophthalmology.

    In addition to his clinical work, Professor Garway-Heath's research focuses on the development and evaluation of techniques for effective diagnosis, monitoring and management of glaucoma, the identification of risk factors for glaucoma progression and decision-support systems for healthcare delivery services.

    He is the author of over 180 peer-reviewed publications. Professor Garway-Heath was bestowed the prestigious Alcon Research Institute Award for "outstanding contributors to ophthalmic research" as well as the World Glaucoma Association Research Recognition Award. He was also cited as one of the 100 most influential people in ophthalmology worldwide in 2014 in The Ophthalmologist magazine power list.

    For more information on Professor Garway-Heath's achievements.

    For more information on registration to the European Glaucoma Society 2016 annual meeting.

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  • How visual conditions affect sight: Living with glaucoma

    The International Glaucoma Association (IGA) provided advice and comment on what London looks like through the eyes of someone living with glaucoma.

    Here is the full article where you can see how glaucoma affects sight.

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

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  • 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.

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  • 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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  • Welsh Over 45 Shun Eye Test 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 of 1,000 adults over the age of 45, commissioned by the IGA, 11% of the Welsh surveyed said they had either not had an eye test in the last five years, or had never had one at all. The survey also showed a marked difference nationally 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 16% of the Welsh 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, 41% of the Welsh surveyed worry about the cost, 4% of those surveyed said it takes too much time and 11% said they don’t think they need a test. Nationally, men are more likely than women to think they don’t need an eye test: 17% compared with 7%.

    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 that nationally 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.
    Nationally, men are much more likely than women to withhold information from the DVLA: 10% and 3% respectively.

    No less worrying was the fact that 6% of men surveyed nationally 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.

    Eryl Williams, Business Development Manager of the International Glaucoma Association in Cardiff 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”, Williams 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).

    Read more

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