Public awareness

  • New self-advocacy pilot launches to help prevent sight loss for eye patients

    14 March 2017

    Patients are being helped to take care of their sight under a new pilot scheme to end cancelled, delayed or missed eye clinic appointments.

    RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) is trialling a patient self-advocacy project in partnership with the Macular Society, International Glaucoma Association, and The Royal College of Ophthalmologists.

    Ask & Tell empowers patients to ask their eye doctor when their next appointment should be, and to tell reception staff so it is kept. It creates awareness with reception and administration staff in eye clinics about the importance of follow up appointments to avoid preventable sight loss. Ask & Tell also aims to encourage patients to not miss their appointments.

    During the six month pilot, patients can access a range of Ask & Tell resources and information online and in the eye clinic to support them to look after their sight.

    Around 20 patients a month in England experience sight loss as a result of hospital-initiated appointment delays, according to The Royal College of Ophthalmologists’ research ‘Surveillance of sight loss due to delay in ophthalmic treatment or review: frequency, cause and outcome’1.

    Fazilet Hadi, Director of Engagement at RNIB, said:
    “We’re delighted to be running the Ask & Tell pilot in partnership with the Macular Society, International Glaucoma Association, and The Royal College of Ophthalmologists.

    “We know it’s vital for patients to attend their eye clinic appointments and to have timely access to effective diagnosis and treatments. Delaying, cancelling or missing an appointment can lead to loss of sight, which could have been prevented.”

    Cathy Yelf, Chief Executive of the Macular Society, said:
    “Understandably, patients get very frightened when their appointments are delayed or cancelled because they know the consequences. We look forward to piloting Ask & Tell and hope it will mean more patients get access to the timely treatment they need.”

    Karen Osborn, Chief Executive of International Glaucoma Association, said:
    “We know from our helpline and from our own research that delays to hospital appointments are increasing. Callers are anxious and stressed about the impact this will have on their condition. We are delighted to be working with RNIB, the Macular Society, and The Royal College of Ophthalmologists to highlight this issue and believe this campaign will have a positive impact on patients".

    Professor Carrie MacEwen, President of The Royal College of Ophthalmologists, said:
    “The Ask & Tell initiative is a great example of providing patients with tools that encourage them to manage and understand the importance of keeping their scheduled eye appointments as advised by consultants.”

    RNIB will use feedback from the pilots to inform a roll out of Ask & Tell across England later this year.

    For more information about Ask & Tell, please visit: www.rnib.org.uk/askandtell

    Notes to editors
    The hospitals taking part in the Ask & Tell pilot are:
    • Manchester Royal Eye Hospital
    • Royal Blackburn Hospital
    • Salisbury District Hospital
    • West of England Eye Unit at Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital
    • Great Western Hospital, Swindon
    • Moorfields Eye Hospital, Old Street site, London
    • Heartlands Hospital, Birmingham

    1. BOSU Study: Authors B Foot and C MacEwen ‘Surveillance of sight loss due to delay in ophthalmic treatment or review: frequency, cause and outcome’ http://www.nature.com/eye/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/eye20171a.html

    All media enquiries to Anabel Unity Sale on 020 7874 1360 or anabelunity.sale@rnib.org.uk. Or, for urgent enquiries out-of-hours, please call 07968 482 812.

    About RNIB
    Every 15 minutes, someone in the UK begins to lose their sight. We are the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and we're here for everyone affected by sight loss – that's over 2 million people in the UK. If you, or someone you know, has a sight problem, RNIB can help. Call the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999 or visit www.rnib.org.uk

    About the Macular Society
    The Macular Society is a leading UK charity that aims to reduce the fear and loneliness of sight loss and funds medical research to find a cure for macular diseases. We have around 340 Macular Society support groups, and a range of other services, including patient advocacy, so no one has to face macular disease alone. Our helpline is 0300 3030 111.

    About the International Glaucoma Association
    1. 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
    2. 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.
    3. As part of its support services, the IGA operates the Sightline (telephone 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).
    5. 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.

    About The Royal College of Ophthalmologists
    The Royal of Ophthalmologists (RCOphth) is the professional membership organisation for eye doctors. We champion research, the science and practice of ophthalmology through training, assessment and continuing professional development. We advocate the timely diagnosis and treatment of patients to preserve sight and prevent avoidable blindness.
    www.rcophth.ac.uk

    Anabel Unity Sale
    Senior PR Officer

    RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People)
    105 Judd Street, London WC1H 9NE

    t: 020 7874 1360 Out of hours press line: 07968 482 812
    e: anabelunity.sale@rnib.org.uk

    w: www.rnib.org.uk

    Join us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/rnibuk
    Follow us on twitter: www.twitter.com/rnib

    --

    Help us to ensure that blind and partially sighted people can access vital vision rehabilitation services. For more information, go to www.rnib.org.uk/seeandplan
    --

    DISCLAIMER:

    NOTICE: The information contained in this email and any attachments is confidential and may be privileged. If you are not the intended recipient you should not use, disclose, distribute or copy any of the content of it or of any attachment; you are requested to notify the sender immediately of your receipt of the email and then to delete it and any attachments from your system.

    RNIB endeavours to ensure that emails and any attachments generated by its staff are free from viruses or other contaminants. However, it cannot accept any responsibility for any such which are transmitted.
    We therefore recommend you scan all attachments.

    Please note that the statements and views expressed in this email and any attachments are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RNIB.

    RNIB Registered Charity Number: 226227

    Website: https://www.rnib.org.uk

    Read more

  • 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

    Read more

  • 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.

    -ENDS-

    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)

    Read more

  • IGA Professor of Glaucoma recognised as one of most influential people in ophthalmology today

    IGA professor recognised for his glaucoma researchIGA Professor of Ophthalmology, Glaucoma and Allied Studies is recognised for the second consecutive year as one of the most influential people in ophthalmology today. For the second year running, Professor David Garway-Health has been included on the Ophthalmologist Power List 2016.

    Comments Russell Young; "Professor Garway-Heath's achievements are considerable. We are fortunate that, as well as his work as the Vice President of the European Glaucoma Society, his work with the University of London, his Consultant position at Moorfields Eye Hospital, he is also able to act as a clinical advisor and spokesperson for the IGA".

    Research by David (Ted) Garway-Heath has provided many new tools that are in widespread use today. These include the Moorfields Motion Displacement Test; The Moorfields Regression Analysis, a software program for imaging performance in tomography; and the Garway-Heath Map, used in research to establish the correlation between visual field and optic nerve hypoplasia changes. In addition, his work on the UK Glaucoma Treatment Study showed that it was possible to reduce considerably the period needed to identify treatment effects, thus increasing the likelihood of bringing new drugs more quickly and more cost-effectively to patients.

    For the full PowerList click here

    Note to editors

     

    Read more

  • 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

    Read more

  • Specsavers and IGA raise awareness of glaucoma during World Glaucoma Week 2016

    The International Glaucoma Association is focusing on the need for regular eye health checks to detect glaucoma, during this year’s World Glaucoma Week 2016. With 64 million people with glaucoma globally and an estimated rise to 76 million, it is vital that people recognise the importance of eye health.

    A visit to the optometrist will quickly detect whether there is a risk of glaucoma, and once diagnosed, glaucoma can be treated. Although any sight lost due to glaucoma cannot be recovered, with regular treatment, useful sight can be maintained for life. This is particularly true in the UK, where it is estimated that there are 600,000 people with glaucoma, but around 50 per cent of these people are undiagnosed.

    As a charity the IGA relies on the generosity of its members to help fund vital services including our helpline and our free patient literature. We are therefore delighted that the national optometry chain, Specsavers has chosen to both raise awareness of glaucoma and to raise funds for IGA during World Glaucoma Week 2016.

    Specsavers will be donating £1.00 to the IGA for every tonometry test (puff test) which is performed in its stores during World Glaucoma Week.

    Comments Karen Brewer, Head of Communications at the IGA “We are delighted that Specsavers are raising awareness of glaucoma in the community. In the UK, it is the most common cause of preventable sight loss, yet many are unaware that glaucoma has no symptoms in the early stages and this is why regular sight tests are so important”.

    -ends-

    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

  • 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

    Read more

  • 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).

    Read more

1-10 of 28

Page:
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3