NATIONAL EYE HEALTH WEEK: TOP SURGEON WARNS ABOUT THE DANGERS OF MISSING GLAUCOMA TREATMENT

As part of the IGA’s ‘It’s Black or White, Save your Sight. Use your Eye Drops.’ campaign, for this year’s National Eye Health Week* (19-25 September), IGA Chair and Consultant Ophthalmologist, Keith Barton warns that correct and regular instillation of eye drops is essential to control glaucoma.

There are an estimated 600,000 people with glaucoma in the UK today. Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions in which the optic nerve is damaged, usually by excessive pressure within the eye. 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.   Fortunately glaucoma is the most common cause of preventable blindness and for the majority of glaucoma patients, daily eye drops are a simple solution to control their condition and save their sight.

For this year’s campaign, the IGA will be focusing on the issues that they know people with glaucoma face when it comes to taking eye drops. Mr Barton comments, “Most people diagnosed with glaucoma will be able to manage their own treatment by taking eye drops. Used regularly they help to keep the eye pressure to an appropriate level, reducing the risk of visual loss. If you are having difficulty, talk to your ophthalmologist or contact the IGA who can help and provide advice.”

A recent study showed that 57% of glaucoma patients have some difficulty administering eye drops[1]. Reasons for not taking eye drops correctly included: forgetting when doses were due (38%), difficulty with the dropper bottle (18%), difficulty getting drops in the eye (11%) and not having medication to hand (10%).”

Karen Osborn, Chief Executive of the IGA comments, ‘We know from calls to our helpline and from patient support groups that many glaucoma patients are not told that eye drops are a lifelong treatment and are not told how to administer their drops correctly. For this year’s National Eye Health Week our ‘It’s Black or White, Save Your Sight’ campaign aims to educate glaucoma patients nationwide about the importance of administering their eye drops correctly and our new poster for hospitals, GPs’ surgeries and pharmacies gives a step by step guide to taking eye drops.'

More information can be obtained from the IGA website, www.glaucoma-association.com or by calling 01233 64 81 70 where staff are available Monday to Friday 9.30-5.00pm. There are also more than 70 patient support groups throughout the country. These groups allow patients to meet with health professionals and talk about glaucoma and related treatments in a more relaxed, informal setting. To make a donation to the IGA, visit the IGA Just Giving page.

Note to editors: [1] Research carried out by FreshMinds Research, on behalf of The College of Optometrists between 30 April 2010 and 12 May 2010 amongst a panel of 4,004 respondents.

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

*National Eye Health Week

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

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

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

Or Mary-Jane Greenhalgh, 07866 722051, maryjane@prwhenyouneedit.co.uk or Karen Brewer on: DD: 01233 64 81 69; M: 07976 08 52 40; k.brewer@iga.org.uk,

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

About the International Glaucoma Association:

  1. The International Glaucoma Association (IGA) is the charity for people with glaucoma, with the mission to raise awareness of glaucoma, promote research related to early diagnosis and treatment, and to provide support to patients and all those who care for them. For more information, please visit:

www.glaucoma-association.com

  1. 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.
  2. 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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