News

  • INTERNATIONAL GLAUCOMA ASSOCIATION WARNS MUSLIMS NOT TO STOP TAKING EYE DROPS DURING RAMADAN

    The International Glaucoma Association (IGA) advises Muslim glaucoma patients not to stop taking eye drop medication during Ramadan (Tuesday 15 May to Thursday 14 June) as stopping drops even for a short period of time can cause permanent loss of vision.

    Hospital reports and calls to the IGA helpline have indicated that some Muslims cease using their eye drops during Ramadan, believing that using the eye drops will break their fast. Even more worrying is that many of these patients then stop using the drops completely when they don’t perceive any change to their sight. This will not be apparent to the individual until significant sight loss has occurred.

    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.

    Subhash Suthar, IGA Development Manager, comments: “We want to reassure the Muslim community that drops can be taken before dawn and after sunset (known as Suhoor and Iftar), when food and drink can be consumed. We also suggest that patients close the tear duct when taking eye drops (known as punctual occlusion) as this means that fluid stays in the eye and does not drain into the throat and so cannot be tasted. This is achieved by putting finger pressure at the corner of the eye next to the nose (punctual occlusion) immediately after instilling drops. It is distressing when patients realise through a follow up appointment at their ophthalmologist or optometrist that their vision has been damaged through stopping drops. ”

    The IGA is working with the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) to raise awareness of this issue.

    MCB’s Deputy Secretary General Dr Omer El-Hamdoon, has confirmed that all Islamic Schools Of Thought agree that taking eye drops does not invalidate the fast unless the eye drops reach the throat, which is unlikely. More so, Islam advocates that people take care of their bodies.

    IGA Advice for eye drops during Ramadan:

    1. Do not stop eye drops during Ramadan- all Schools of Thought support this
    2. If you are still doubtful, use morning drops at Suhoor and evening drops at Iftar
    3. Try practicing punctal occlusion following instillation of drops

    As National Glaucoma Awareness Week approaches (12-18 June) the IGA also advises anyone planning a summer holiday to make sure they take their eye drops with them, as some patients either forget to take their drops with them, or think it will be fine to stop taking them while away, which could lead to serious sight loss.

    The IGA works with all professionals involved in glaucoma management to educate about the need for good eye drop use and compliance. It helps to set up local patient support groups within hospitals and has some simple tips and films available on our website.

    For more information on the IGA call 01233 64 81 64 or log onto
    www.glaucoma-association.com

    -ENDS-

    For further information please contact Annabel Hillary, 07884 430862, annabel@prwhenyouneedit.co.uk

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

    or Karen Brewer on: 01233 64 81 64 or email: K.Brewer@iga.org.uk or R.Kew@iga.org.uk

    About the International Glaucoma Association (Charity Registered in England & Wales no. 274681, in Scotland no. SC041550)

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

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  • High level Education Strategic Review consultation responses show support for new education approach

    The GOC has published some high level findings from its Education Strategic Review concepts and principles consultation. 

    The high level summary publication shows 97 per cent of respondents agreed with the development of new education standards for optometrists and dispensing opticians. 82 per cent agreed with embedding clinical experience progressively from the start of education programmes.

    Stakeholders also showed support for the GOC further informing its education requirements with its Standards for Practice for Optometrists and Dispensing Opticians, with 84 per cent in favour of embedding professionalism into education and training programmes. 

    GOC Chief Executive and Registrar, Vicky McDermott said: “We are delighted to have received many supportive responses to the consultation that will enable us to work at pace to develop our detailed proposals to equip future professionals with the skills, knowledge and behaviours needed to practise safely and competently in a changing sector.

    “We will make concerted progress in the coming months to transform these concepts into workable approaches for the future.”

    The GOC’s Education Strategic Review concepts and principles consultation ran from December 2017 to March 2018, comprised 21 questions and sought feedback on 11 concepts and principles. A total of 36 responses were received to the consultation, 26 from organisations and 10 from individuals.  

    The GOC has also commissioned a full independent analysis of the consultation feedback and will publish this separately. 

    To read the high level findings summary please visit: https://www.optical.org/en/Education/education-strategic-review/supplementary-reading.cfm

    ENDS

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  • Two New Trustees Join the Council of the International Glaucoma Association

    The International Glaucoma Association (IGA) announces that two new trustees, David Sanders and Susan Blakeney, have joined the IGA Board, which is chaired by Philip Bloom, Consultant Ophthalmologist at the Western Eye Hospital.

    David Sanders is a chartered accountant with more than 30 years of experience in various senior managerial positions, including acquisitions, corporate governance, financial control, IT, logistics, HR and audit, working for companies such as Price Waterhouse Coopers, Litton Industries and Omron Corporation a Japanese multinational company.

    For the last four years, David has held honorary positions for Access Stichting, a Dutch organisation supporting expats and campelle Euf, an organisation supporting foreign students at the Flensburg University.

    Susan Blakeney is a practising optometrist.  As well as her optometry degree and professional certificates in glaucoma and medical retina, she also has an MA in medical ethics and law, a bachelors and a masters degree in law and a PhD. Susan is Clinical Adviser to the College of Optometrists, Optometric Adviser to NHS England (South (South East)) and a case examiner for the General Optical Council.  She was awarded the Fellowship of the College of Optometrists for her contribution to the profession in 2008. She has published several papers and her book chapter on ‘Legal aspects of optometry in the United Kingdom’ was published in 2009.

    Picture by www.edwardmoss.co.uk
    All rights reserved
    College of Optometrists conference, York 2014.

    Commenting on the new trustees, Chair of the IGA Board, Philip Bloom, says, “We are delighted that two such high calibre individuals have joined our Council, bringing such useful experience and skills.  David’s business background will ensure that our future strategy is robust, while Susan’s optometry and legal background will also be invaluable in guiding our existing and future services, including dealing with the wider optometry industry and stakeholders.’

    The International Glaucoma Association is the charity for people with glaucoma. Established over 40 years ago, it raises awareness, promotes research related to early diagnosis and treatment, and provides support to patients and all those who care for them. In addition it also part funds the IGA Professor of Ophthalmology for Glaucoma and Allied Studies, Professor David Garway-Heath, at UCL and Moorfields Eye Hospital, London. Other services include: a helpline, patient information, patient support groups, events for professionals and patients, as well as providing grants for research funding. It is run by a board of trustees which represents ophthalmologists, optometrists, ophthalmic nurses and people with glaucoma.

    -ends-

    For further information please contact Karen Brewer/Richenda Kew on: 01233 64 81 64 or email: K.Brewer@iga.org.uk or R.Kew@iga.org.uk

     

    About the International Glaucoma Association (Charity Registered in England & Wales no. 274681, in Scotland no. SC041550)

    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.
    3. For more information about glaucoma, contact the International Glaucoma Association (IGA) Sightline on 01233 64 81 70 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am–5.00pm).

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  • Eye health sector launches new SAFE approach to assist in improving the systems around the delivery of eye health and sight loss services in England

    PRESS RELEASE
    10 April 2018

    The Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning (CCEHC), which represents the leading clinical professions and sight loss charity organisations in the eye-care sector, has launched a new Systems and Assurance Framework for Eye-health (SAFE)1.

    Increasing demands on eye health services due to the ageing population and the availability of new treatments continue to create capacity issues within the hospital eye service as well as pressures on general practice and social care. SAFE provides a sustainable, consistent and coordinated approach to delivering efficient eye health and sight loss pathways.

    SAFE is aimed at those involved in eye health and sight loss services: Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and local authority commissioners, Local Eye Health Networks and providers across health and social care.

    SAFE is a series of core constructs and technical tools based on four principles:

    1. System-based approach to the planning, commissioning and provision of services, to improve patient flows and patient experience, which is operable at the level of an Integrated Care System (ICS) or Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STP) level.
    2. Assurance in delivering better outcomes for patients, and reduce duplication and waste of resources for the NHS
    3. Framework that provides consistency in the approaches taken to improve access, availability and integration of services taking into account the full range and complexity of care pathways that increasingly involve multiple providers and settings to deliver services across health and social care
    4. Eye-health conditions covered are the main adult chronic (Glaucoma and Age-related Macular Degeneration) and high-volume conditions (Cataract), but can be applied to any eye condition.

    Launching the new framework Parul Desai, Chair of the Clinical Council said:

    “The development of SAFE has been clinically led and clinically driven to ensure safe and effective services are available to meet individual and population eye health needs. This cross-sector initiative provides the basis for the organisation and delivery of pathways of care that patients can reasonably expect wherever they may live, with processes that provide assurance on quality and governance.”

    References:
    1. SAFE – System and Assurance Framework for Eye-health. 2018. Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning. www.ccehc.org.uk

    ENDS

    For media enquiries please contact: Ann-Marie Stevens, PR Manager, telephone: 020 7766 4342, email: annmarie.stevens@college-optometrists.org

    Notes to editors

    The Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning (CCEHC) represents the leading clinical professions and charity organisations in the eye-care sector. It is an independent advisory body providing evidence-based national clinical leadership, advice and guidance to policy makers in health, social care and public health, and those commissioning and providing eye health services in England. It is recognised as such through a Memorandum of Understanding with NHS England.
    Its member organisations are:
    • The Royal College of Ophthalmologists
    • The College of Optometrists
    • Association of Directors of Adult Social Services
    • Association of British Dispensing Opticians
    • British and Irish Orthoptic Society
    • Faculty of Public Health
    • Optical Confederation (including the Local Optical Committee Support Unit)
    • Royal College of General Practitioners
    • Royal College of Nursing (Ophthalmic nursing forum)
    • Royal National Institute of Blind People
    • International Glaucoma Association
    • Macular Society
    • Vision UK

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  • The IGA professor is 17th on the list of 100 most influential people in ophthalmology

    #17 David (Ted) Garway-Heath

    David (Ted) Garway-Heath

    IGA Professor of Ophthalmology for Glaucoma and Allied Studies, Consultant Ophthalmologist, Moorfields Eye Hospital, London, UK

    Ted’s research has yielded many new diagnostic and monitoring tools, including the Moorfields Motion Displacement Test that identifies the loss of peripheral vision; The Moorfields Regression Analysis, software that assists glaucoma diagnosis from scanning laser tomography images; and the Garway-Heath Map, which is used in research and clinical practice to map the correspondence between visual field and optic nerve head damage. He was chief investigator for the UK Glaucoma Treatment Study, the first placebo-controlled trial for the medical treatment of glaucoma with a visual field loss outcome. In his research, he aims to continue to improve glaucoma diagnostic techniques, clinical trial design and identify risk factors for glaucoma. He recognizes the importance of multidisciplinary collaboration for successful research and has long-term productive collaborations with statisticians, computer scientists and academics in other fields of medicine. Advancement of knowledge and scientific progress comes from bias-free dialogue with peers, mentees and mentors.

    Ted is fortunate enough to include amongst his mentors Roger Hitchings, with whom he undertook clinical and research fellowships, Joe Caprioli, with whom he did a research fellowship, and George Spaeth, mentor in turn to both Hitchings and Caprioli. As President of the European Glaucoma Society, his aims for the coming years are to increase patient participation in the Society, build the education resources, establish a common platform to measure care outcomes across Europe and strengthen ties with other national and international Glaucoma Societies.

    https://theophthalmologist.com/power-list/2018/

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  • IGA and Specsavers team up for World Glaucoma Week

    Specsavers teams up-skill awareness in glaucoma - the silent thief of sight

    IN THE build up to World Glaucoma Week (11-18 March) all Specsavers teams are up-skilling to better support patients with the condition.

    Often symptomless in its early stages, glaucoma is one of the leading causes of irreversible sight loss. It is thought to affect 700,000 people in the UK today, but as many as 50% of cases are undiagnosed[1].

    In conjunction with the International Glaucoma Association, Specsavers has developed training for its retail teams to assist sufferers with their treatment. Specifically, they will be advising on how to effectively administer eye drops, which are crucial for managing the condition.

    The aim is for each store to have at least one person on the shop floor that has completed the course by World Glaucoma Week. This new training complements the skills held by Specsavers’ optometrists, who have collectively completed almost 5,000 postgraduate glaucoma accreditations since 2017, through a variety of accrediting bodies including Cardiff University and the College of Optometrists.

    Alan Murphy was just 37 when a trip to Specsavers in Connswater, Belfast, found the early stages of glaucoma.  Thanks to early detection, his condition is now managed by using eye drops daily.

    Alan, now an advocate of regular eye tests and good eye health, believes early diagnosis and careful management has saved his sight and says: ‘I would strongly urge people to go for regular eye tests, and to make the most of the advice and support provided by their local optician.’

    Karen Osborn, chief executive of IGA, says: ‘The majority of people who are diagnosed early with glaucoma will retain useful sight for life. Most will be treated with medical eye drops. Unfortunately we know from calls to our helpline that many people aren’t told about how to put the drop in the eye correctly, or aren’t advised about the aids that are available to help them.  We are delighted to work with Specsavers on this often over-looked aspect of glaucoma management.’

    - Ends -

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  • Moorfields appoints IGA trustee, Nick Strouthidis as its new medical director

    26 February 2018

    Source: Moorfields

    Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has appointed Nick Strouthidis to the post of  medical director. Currently a consultant ophthalmologist in Moorfields’ glaucoma service and the glaucoma service director, Nick has worked for the Trust since 2002.

    Nick began his career at Moorfields as a research fellow to the glaucoma research unit and completed most of his training at Moorfields as both a registrar and a clinical glaucoma fellow. His clinical interests cover all aspects of adult glaucoma, particularly new surgical treatments. Alongside corneal consultant colleague Mark Wilkins, he runs the UK’s first integrated clinic for patients undergoing keratoprostheses, a surgical procedure to replace a diseased cornea with an artificial cornea.

    Nick was appointed to this pivotal role following a rigorous recruitment process, involving external stakeholders.

    Nick Strouthidis said:
    “It is an honour to take on the role of medical director at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, an organisation that has shaped my professional life. I will work hard with our incredible staff to ensure we succeed in delivering our five-year strategy to work with patients and partners to discover, develop and deliver the best eye care.”
    The search for a new medical director began in response to outgoing medical director Declan Flanagan stepping down after eight years to focus on his clinical practice. Declan will continue to serve as medical director until August, when Nick takes up the post. After that, Declan will remain with the trust as a consultant ophthalmologist in the medical retina service, where he specialises in the treatment of retinal diseases.

    David Probert, chief executive of Moorfields Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said:
    “I look forward to Nick joining the executive team at Moorfields and congratulate him on his appointment. I am incredibly grateful for Declan’s exceptional leadership throughout his time as medical director.”

    Declan Flanagan said: “Spending the past eight years as Moorfields’ medical director has been a privilege. I am proud that, despite growing demand for our services, our clinical outcomes continue to be among the best in the world.”

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  • Fight for Sight announces 13 new awards to fund vital eye research

    Fight for Sight partners with nine different organisations to fund impactful and innovative research

    Fight for Sight, the leading eye research charity, has awarded grants totalling over £180,000 for thirteen vital research projects in partnership with nine different organisations. Fight for Sight has doubled its partnership working from the previous year, to further extend their impact and support for innovative research.

    New funds have been awarded to support research in these key areas:

    Dementia and visual impairment:
    For the first time, Fight for Sight and Alzheimer’s Research UK have teamed up to fund research into sight loss and dementia as many people with neurodegenerative diseases have problems with their vision. Pearse Keane from UCL’s Institute of Ophthalmology will aim to detect Alzheimer’s disease through images of the retina. Working with researchers from Moorfields, who will analyse a database of over 2 million eye scans, the team will identify features in the scans which are commAon to people who have developed a neurodegenerative disease. The longer term aim is to develop a screening tool for earlier detection of Alzheimer’s disease. The research will also enable a better understanding of why people with neurodegenerative diseases have problems with their vision.

    Dementia and age-related macular degeneration (AMD):
    Fight for Sight and Alzheimer’s Research UK are also jointly funding a project being led by Dr J. Arjuna Ratnayaka from the University of Southampton. Both Alzheimer’s disease and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) have been linked with a group of misfolded proteins called amyloid beta (Aβ). The aim of this research is to study how Aβ proteins in the vitreous, the substance that fills the centre of the eye, change with age and disease progression. The research team will collect vitreous samples from AMD patients, screen for changes in Aβ levels and compare the results to those from healthy individuals. This research could help further prove that changes to retinal Aβ levels may be an effective biomarker for high-risk individuals likely to develop AMD before the actual symptoms of sight loss occur.

    Birdshot uveitis:
    Fight for Sight is partnering with Birdshot Uveitis Society to fund Professor Alastair Denniston’s research into birdshot chorioretinopathy which is taking place at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust. The world’s first National Birdshot Biobank and Registry has been created, which is enabling researchers and clinicians to work towards better outcomes for birdshot treatments. Professor Denniston will study the genetic makeup of birdshot patients to understand the causes of the condition and develop ways to predict disease progression.

    Glaucoma:
    Fight for Sight and International Glaucoma Association are supporting a research project by Professor Colin Willoughby from Ulster University. Using the Treatment of Advance Glaucoma Study (TAGS), which has recruited over 450 patients, Professor Willoughby will explore the genetics of patients with advanced glaucoma. His team will provide predictive testing to improve early diagnosis. This will identify patients at risk of progression and may help to explain why the disease differs between different ethnic groups.

    Fight for Sight will also fund a project led by Dr Andrew Osbourne from the University of Cambridge, whose objective will be to improve our understanding of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) signalling in human retinal tissue. BDNF and its receptor, tropomyosin-related kinase-B (TrkB), help maintain the survival of retinal ganglion cells, which gradually die, leading to sight loss and eventually blindness. This research could help treat patients with progressive glaucoma, particularly those who receive treatment to lower intra-ocular eye pressure yet still experience deterioration of their vision.

    Retinal vascular disease:
    Fight for Sight in partnership with National Eye Research Centre is funding Dr Adam Dubis from Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust to create a database of normal eye blood flow features. This will define a range of healthy blood flow so that abnormal blood flow can be better identified. This information could result in improved diagnostic markers and potentially better treatments and patient management.

    Leber hereditary optic neuropathy:
    Fight for Sight and Thomas Pocklington Trust are jointly funding Dr Patrick Yu Wai Man at the University of Cambridge. His research will make use of functional MRI to get high-resolution “real time” images of the visual pathways from the eye all the way back to the vision centres in the brain. Researchers will map out the chronological changes that occur along those pathways and in the brain after the onset of vision loss in individuals with Leber hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON). The researchers will explore whether functional MRI could prove useful as an assessment tool in future treatment trials. The knowledge gained will also help provide more accurate counselling to patients with LHON.

    Corneal and external eye conditions:
    Fight for Sight has funded Dr Mohammed Al-Aqaba from The University of Nottingham. A healthy ocular surface relies on stem cells replenishing old and damaged cells. The research team have discovered novel receptors which could play a pivotal role in the maintenance of this process. The aim of this research is to characterise the structure of these novel receptors which play a role in the regulation of stem cells and the micro-environment around the cornea. The results could reveal the function of these receptors and their role in the prevention of blindness.

    This latest round of Fight for Sight small grants also includes funding for the following projects:
    · Dr Maryse Bailly – funded in partnership with British Thyroid Foundation - A novel pathway regulating adipogenesis in Thyroid Eye Disease: characterization of spontaneous lipogenesis and validation of novel therapeutic targets
    · Dr Lee Mcilreavy – funded in partnership with Nystagmus Network - Diagnosing infantile nystagmus: a novel eye tracking approach
    · Dr Helen Griffiths – funded in partnership with Nystagmus Network - Nystagmus Stabilisation with Virtual Reality Technology
    · Dr Greg Elder – funded in partnership with Thomas Pocklington Trust and Esme’s Umbrella- Visual hallucinations in Charles Bonnet Syndrome: a neuroimaging comparison study with non-hallucinating control individuals
    · Miss Swan Kang – funded in partnership with Thyroid Eye Disease Charitable Trust - Characterisation of anterior segment vasculature in thyroid eye disease using optical coherence tomography angiography

    The next Fight for Sight small grants round opens for applications in May 2018 – keep an eye on the Fight for Sight web site for details: https://www.fightforsight.org.uk/apply-for-funding/

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  • IGA wins commendation at Ophthalmology Awards 2017

    The IGA together with Princess Alexander Eye Pavilion, NHS Lothian receives a commendation for a local patient-led support group for Scotland aimed at reaching out to patients to improve awareness of glaucoma in the community.

    ‘Glaucoma Support Edinburgh’ was formed by a group of patients to address several unmet needs as the NHS now believe patients should take responsibility for their own health, and a support group/forum where patients can build their knowledge is an aid to this goal. The initiative began by recruiting a small group of patients, representatives from the International Glaucoma Association (IGA) and glaucoma specialists from the Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion, to form a project steering committee.

    Their aim was to establish a local patient-led support group for Scotland with its own identity, but affiliated to the IGA, with the aim of reaching out to patients and improve awareness of glaucoma in the community.

    A website was developed to provide patients with information on meetings and events which is now used as a local awareness/information site. The culture of ‘patients supporting patients’ has led to growth in the number of patients engaging with and accessing the support provided. The group has relieved pressure on the NHS services where there is little extra funding for patient education.

    Judges’ comments:
    “This entry showcased ‘excellent results’ and fulfils the unmet need that exists in some ophthalmology units. The judges found it interesting and demonstrated clear innovation by being patient led – overall it was a good use of patient support groups and patient ownership.”

    For more information about the 2017 winners, click here

    About the awards

    The Ophthalmology Honours recognise and celebrate the outstanding work being carried out by multi-disciplinary teams in ophthalmology throughout the UK. The awards identify exceptional initiatives that demonstrate clinical excellence and innovation in ophthalmology, and recognise exceptional individuals who improve the quality of care provided to patients and the patient experience. Funded and facilitated by Bayer, the awards are judged by a multi-disciplinary panel of experts in ophthalmology care and the decision-making process is wholly independent of Bayer.

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  • Delayed glaucoma appointments: IGA guidance

    Hospital eye clinics across the UK have never been so busy. Increasing numbers of our members are facing delayed or cancelled appointments, which is understandably causing a good deal of worry, so we have put this guidance together to help anyone having problems with appointments. It is aimed at people new to the system as well as those familiar with eye clinics.

    • Hospitals each have their own way of booking appointments, so when you go, find out how their process works. It may be possible to book the next appointment after being seen in clinic, or you may have to wait for a letter to notify you of your next appointment, or you may be asked to ring the hospital at a specified date, or to book online. You are entitled to receive any communications from the hospital or GP in a format that is accessible to you, so if you have a degree of sight loss, you may want to ask for any letters to be sent in large print etc., and to ask at the clinic that they make a note of this on your record.
    • Make a note of the name of your consultant or doctor, the time and place of your next visit, what will happen at the next appointment and who you will see, and whether you will need to avoid driving to the appointment due to the types of test or treatment (for example you may be given dilating or anaesthetic eye drops).
    • At the end of your appointment, ask the consultant when you should next attend, and to tell you the maximum time between appointments (so for example “ideally attend in six months but not longer than nine months”). This will then help you to gauge the urgency of the appointment and contact the hospital if you are approaching the deadline without a booking. You will then be able to quote the doctor’s recommendation when calling for an appointment.
    • Experience tells us that you will need to be both persistent and politely assertive. Once you’ve been put through to the right person, we advise you tell them that you would prefer to stay on the line to wait for an appointment time, rather than them calling you back. Politely stress the importance of the appointment.
    • If you specifically need to see your consultant at the appointment – for example if you have received conflicting information or if you need to discuss glaucoma issues which are troubling you - ask specifically to see the glaucoma consultant at this appointment.
    • Appointment intervals vary depending on how your glaucoma is responding to treatment. If your glaucoma is stable, ongoing monitoring is usually every six months to a year, and an annual visual field test is also fairly standard, but be advised by your ophthalmologist as to when you should next attend. The National Council for Clinical Excellence – NICE –  issued new glaucoma guidelines in November 2017, and these give details of standard treatment schedules. The guidelines can be found online at https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng81/chapter/Recommendations#standard-practice-for-all-assessments  But please remember that this is a general guide: everyone’s circumstances are different, so please do not worry if your doctor calls you back more or less frequently than the guidelines suggest.

    Who to contact if you have problems with appointments

    If your appointment is cancelled, if you are given a date later than the one recommended by your eye doctor, or if you are concerned about your glaucoma, we recommend you try these contacts:

    1. Call the central appointments department if there is one; if not call the main hospital number and ask to be put through to the ‘eye secretary’.
    2. If you are still having difficulties getting a suitable appointment, ask to speak to your consultant’s secretary. Give the name of your consultant, and tell the secretary what your consultant said about when you should be seen.
    3. If you are still having difficulties, an Eye Clinic Liaison Officer (ECLO) may be able to help. An increasing number of hospitals now have ECLOs, who work closely with eye clinic staff and whose role is to give extra support to patients about all aspects of eye health care and sight loss. In some clinics ECLOs may be known as Sight Loss Advisors, or in Scotland as Vision Support Officers. Some ECLOs use appointment systems to see patients and others use an ad hoc drop in system; many can also provide help over the phone. It is worth asking for the ECLOs contact details at your next appointment, but they can also be contacted by calling the hospital’s main number and asking to speak to the Eye Clinic Liaison Officer.
    4. If you still have problems, try the hospital’s Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS).

    Every hospital trust should have a PALS service that provides impartial advice and assistance in answering questions and resolving concerns that patients, their relatives, friends and carers might have accessing the NHS services. The service can be contacted via the main hospital switchboard, or online via NHS choices or a general internet search for ‘PALS’. There should be PALS leaflets available from reception, and many hospitals also have staffed PALS offices on site, so you may be able to drop in and see someone in person.

    1. If you have tried all these routes without luck, you may need to consider making a formal complaint.

    The PALS service will be able to tell you how to complain to the hospital.

    To complain about opticians, GPs or other primary care providers, write to NHS England,
    PO Box 16738, Redditch B97 9PT, email england.contactus@nhs.net, putting ‘For the attention of the complaints team’ in the subject line; or telephone: 0300 311 22 33.

    Some IGA members have also raised the issue of capacity in eye health care with their MP.

    Remember, you can always call our Glaucoma Helpline on 01233 64 81 70 for advice, support and information.

    The IGA is the charity for people affected by glaucoma. www.glaucoma-association.com

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