IGA News

  • Specsavers and IGA partnership to raise glaucoma awareness

    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 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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  • Family Focus for National Glaucoma Awareness Week 2016 as IGA Urges Regular Eye Checks for Families of Glaucoma Patients

    For this year’s National Glaucoma Awareness Week, 6-12 June, The International Glaucoma Association (IGA) is focusing on the need for close relatives of a known glaucoma patient, to have regular eye checks to prevent possible sight loss. Parents, children, brothers or sisters are up to four times more likely to develop glaucoma, when compared to people without a family history of glaucoma*.

    IGA NGAW 2016 - Family Tree

    It is estimated that there are 600,000 people with glaucoma in the UK today, but half are undiagnosed. It is the most common cause of preventable blindness, yet many people are unaware that glaucoma 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 by the individual.  Once sight is lost it cannot be recovered.

    Regular eye checks

    Russell Young CEO of the IGA comments: “Our research has shown that one in three people (32 per cent)[i] diagnosed with glaucoma did not know glaucoma can be inherited. This is worrying given the increased risk that relatives have of developing the condition. When it comes to the general public, awareness of the inherited link is significantly lower, with only 49 per cent[ii] being aware of the link with family history.”

    Continues Russell, “We regularly hear from people who have irretrievably lost their sight to glaucoma, as they haven’t had regular eye health checks.  People are often angry and upset, to know that a quick and regular visit to their high street optometrist would have detected the condition. It is critical that family members have regular eye health checks throughout life, at least every two years, and more regularly if advised by a health professional. The earlier treatment starts the more likely that someone will retain useful sight for life.”

    The IGA believes that everyone should have regular eye health checks, at least every two years and works with optometrists, eye clinic staff, voluntary groups and people across the country to help prevent sight loss unnecessarily. For people with a family history of glaucoma, eye checks are free in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for those aged over 40, and free in Scotland regardless of age.

    Glaucoma Facts

    • Glaucoma is 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 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.


    Notes for editors:

    • *references available

    For further information or to interview an IGA spokesperson, please contact: Karen Brewer, Head of Communications on 01233 64 81 69 or email marketing@iga.org.uk

    Please see attached a case study of Hayley Mason’s glaucoma experience.  Further case studies are available on request: Hayley Mason Case study

    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 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 and also 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 70 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am–5.00pm).

    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 testing over the age of 60. In Scotland, the NHS will pay for glaucoma examinations offered by optometrists, regardless of age.

    [i] IGA Members research (n=977), 2014

    [ii] IGA Research (Fly Research 2014)

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  • Mr William Blake FCIT FILT FIEM 2 September 1929 to 27 May 2016

    It is with great sadness that we announce that Mr William (Bill) Blake, former IGA Trustee passed away quietly on Friday 27th May, aged 86.

    Bill made an enormous contribution to the IGA in his many years as Honorary Treasurer, Chairman of the Chair Trust and later Vice Chair of the charity.

    The effects of his work have been important and far-reaching. He was tireless in his efforts to raise awareness of both the IGA and glaucoma. He combined his passion and commitment to the Lion’s Club, with his dedication to the IGA and ensured that glaucoma and our charity was firmly placed at the centre of the Lion’s Eye Health programme – a community based education programme promoting healthy vision and raising awareness of the causes of preventable vision loss.

    Bill’s working life was rich and varied. He was an experienced consultant and specialist in crisis management, having had more than 40 years involvement in the civil aviation and transport industry.

    As a senior operations manager of British Airways until 1983, he had special worldwide responsibilities for Contingency and Emergency Planning and co-coordination. He provided consultancy services in crisis management to major airlines as well as two overseas Governments.

    He jointly designed and later directed the Master degree course in Civil Emergency Management at the University of Hertfordshire. He was a director of Blake Emergency Services Ltd and Blake Information Centre and was Chairman of the Institute of Emergency Management.

    His wise counsel was invaluable to both trustees and staff. His calm and patient nature made him an asset to the team at the International Glaucoma Association, who have all been personally touched by his support and friendship.

    A fuller tribute to Bill will follow in the IGA News.

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