News

  • IGA comments on Smartphone glasses covered in press today

    17 June 2015

    There has been widespread coverage today, on the development of Smartphone glasses that can help people registered blind to use their remaining sight. The glasses are still in development. The new technology will be useful for people diagnosed with Reginitis Pigmentosa, Diabetic Retinopathy, Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Cataracts. It will not benefit people with glaucoma. The Chair of IGA, Keith Barton explains: "Most of these devices work for patients with damaged retinas in situations where the optic nerve is in reasonably good shape. In other words the eye is capable of transmitting impulses in the brain, but the sensory retina has generally reduced function. By amplifying the signal in some way, the retina can pick up enough to send some information via the optic nerve to the brain.   Glaucoma is completely different in that the retina is fine but the optic nerve is damaged. Either the optic nerve is capable of transmitting information to the brain or it isn't. It is not a matter of amplifying or modifying the signal. Hence most of these types of aids don't work for patients with severe glaucoma". -ends-

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  • 3m Brits at risk of preventable sight loss

    9 June 2014

    Despite opticians being trained to spot health issues, one in ten of Britons over the age of 40 are putting themselves at risk from the serious eye condition, glaucoma, by never or not having taken an eye test in the last five years.

    Even among people who are aware of glaucoma, less than half (48%) know glaucoma has no obvious early symptoms that can only be detected by an optician or an eye care professional.

    These are the findings of research carried out by Fly Research, on behalf of the International Glaucoma Association, the charity for people with glaucoma, to coincide with National Glaucoma Awareness Week (9 to 15 June 2014).

    Russell Young, CEO, IGA commented: “The good news is 49 per cent of people over the age of 40 are having an eye test every two or three years and 32% every year, but, what’s worrying, is that a significant minority still aren’t visiting opticians regularly, despite free eye tests available to groups most at risk**. Glaucoma, which is one of the leading causes of preventable blindness, has no obvious early symptoms, and it isn’t until the condition is fairly advanced that the individual recognises that something is wrong with their vision. Once vision is lost, it cannot be recovered.”

    Repeated research shows sight is the sense that people fear to lose the most. With opticians on every high street, it is easy for eye conditions to be detected early and treated. Treatment, often in the form of eye drops, means that most people will retain useful sight for life.

    Young continues, “Glaucoma has commonly been described as tunnel vision, yet this is rare. It is far more common for people to experience patchy or misty vision in places. Encouragingly, our research shows the role of the optician as a health professional is largely understood with the majority (89 per cent) being aware that the optician can detect eye conditions that can lead to loss of sight if not successfully treated”.

    This year’s National Glaucoma Awareness Week 2014 is urging everyone over the age of 40 to take Action for Sight, and have regular eye tests, particularly if they are at an increased risk of developing glaucoma. This includes people of African-Caribbean origin, who are four times more likely to develop the condition, more likely for it to appear earlier, and for it to be more severe, when compared to people of European origin.

    The IGA is supporting the Action for Sight campaign through awareness packs distributed via hospitals, opticians, and through our members and volunteers. Advertising at bus shelters in London and promotions with The Voice newspaper and Nigerian Watch newspaper and website will focus on the increased need for the African-Caribbean population to book an eye test.

    “With an ageing population and predictions that the black and minority ethnic community will increase to 30 per cent of the population by 2050***, the role of the optician has never been more important. Early detection and treatment literally saves sight, as over 90% of individuals who are diagnosed early will retain useful sight for life. Despite such promising results, it is estimated over 50% of cases of glaucoma remain undetected in the UK,” Young concludes.

    -ends-

    Notes for editors:

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

    Survey of 1039 respondents over the age of 40 in the UK, conducted in April 2014 by Fly Research Ltd www.flyresearch.com on behalf of IGA.

     

    * Office for National Statistics, Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency

    http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/publications/re-reference-tables.html?edition=tcm%3A77-294273

     

    National Records of Scotland © Crown Copyright 2012

    **people over the age of 60, under 16 or under 19 and in full time education, live in Scotland, have diabetes or glaucoma, over 40 and have a close relative with glaucoma, have been advised by an ophthalmologist that you are at risk of glaucoma, registered as visually impaired, are entitled to vouchers for complex lenses, a prisoner or on leave from prison, a person or partner receives Income Support, Family Credit, Income Based Job Seekers Allowance, Income Based Job Seekers Allowance, Income Based Employment and Support Allowance (non contribution based), Pension Credit Guarantee and are entitled to or named on a valid NHS Tax Credit Exemption Certificate or are named on a valid HC2 or HC3 Certificate.

    ***Policy Exchange “A Portrait of Modern Britain, 2014

    http://www.policyexchange.org.uk/publications/category/item/a-portrait-of-modern-britain?category_id=24

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  • National Glaucoma Awareness Week: 9 to 15 June, 2014

    12 May 2014

    This year’s National Glaucoma Awareness Week 2014 is urging people to take Action for Sight, and have regular eye tests, particularly if they are at an increased risk of developing glaucoma. People of African-Caribbean origin are four times more likely to develop the condition, and are more likely for it to appear earlier and for it to be more severe, when compared to people of European origin.

    Early detection and treatment literally saves sight, as over 90% of individuals who are diagnosed early will retain useful sight for life. Despite such promising results, it is estimated that over 50% of cases of glaucoma remain undetected in the UK.

    Awareness and regular eye health checks are critical. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of preventable blindness. There are no early symptoms and it isn’t until the condition is fairly advanced that people recognise that there is something wrong with their vision. Once vision is lost, it cannot be recovered. A simple eye health check can pick up the condition early and treatment, which most commonly includes taking eye drops, means most people will maintain sight for life.

    The IGA will be supporting the Action for Sight campaign through awareness packs which will be distributed via hospitals, opticians, and through our members and volunteers. Advertising at bus shelters in London and promotions with The Voice newspaper and Nigerian Watch newspaper and website will focus on the increased need for the African-Caribbean population to book an eye test. The campaign will also be supported by the launch of new research into general awareness and understanding of glaucoma.

    For more news about National Glaucoma Awareness Week, follow us on Twitter @TweetIGA or search using the hashtag #ActionForSight, or join our Facebook community. The helpline can be called on 01233 64 81 78, and the website, www.glaucoma-association.com has an interactive forum.

    For further information about the week, please write to Karen Brewer (by post or email k.brewer@iga.org.uk, or phone 01233 64 81 69).

     

    Notes for editors:

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

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  • Launch of European Eye Health Manifesto

    The European Coalition for Vision calls on MEPs to support better vision and eye health across Europe, and uphold the rights of visually impaired people.

     4th February, Strasburg – The European Coalition for Vision (ECV) (1) and the Coalition’s manifesto for the European Parliament elections (2) were launched today at the European Parliament seat in Strasbourg. The manifesto, presented in an event hosted by the Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Marian Harkin (ALDE, IE), calls on the European Parliament to use its significant powers to improve the lives of people affected by vision impairment or at risk of vision loss.

    “Brussels can do a better job when it comes to encouraging European Union (EU) Member States to prioritise vision and eye health within their health strategies – an area largely neglected by most European governments, said Peter Ackland, Chief Executive Officer of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB).

    Europe is facing an invisible epidemic, with 25 million Europeans suffering from serious vision impairment - including 2.7 million who are blind. Since an estimated two-thirds of these cases could be treated or prevented, the hefty burden that vision impairment imposes on affected individuals, their families, EU Member States and the EU as a whole could be alleviated with the right measures in place.

    Lower rates of vision impairment and blindness will help EU Member States make considerable healthcare savings. In addition, better vision and eye health will not only greatly improve the lives of the people affected – it would also yield major productivity gains across sectors.

    EU Member States should, once and for all, take off their blindfolds on vision and eye matters and begin adopting available, yet shockingly overlooked, cost-effective solutions (3) –with fair access to eye care for all, and rapid intervention- to help tackle the mounting challenge of vision impairment for individuals and society across Europe. For this political commitment to unfold, the ECV’s electoral manifesto calls on the European Parliament to adopt a resolution to make this happen.

     “Both today’s rise in diabetes and an aging Europe (4) threaten to increase the numbers of avoidably vision impaired and blind persons. There is an urgent need to address the gaps in eye health provision in Europe, and to promote the rights of the blind and partially sighted so that they can live a life of equal opportunities within a socially inclusive Europe,” said MEP Marian Harkin.

    Notes to editors

    (1) The European Coalition for Vision (ECV) is an alliance made up of professional bodies, patient groups, European NGOs, disabled people's organisations and trade associations representing suppliers. The coalition exists to raise the profile of eye health and vision, help prevent avoidable visual impairment and secure an equal and inclusive society for those with irreversible blindness or low vision in Europe.

    (2) Read the the European Coalition for Vision (ECV) Manifesto for the European Parliament elections (saved in folder)

    (3) In May 2013 the World Health Assembly adopted Resolution 66.4 which included the global Action Plan "Universal Eye Health- a global Action Plan 2014 -2019". It is now of paramount importance that the 28 Member States of the EU each develop country specific plans to achieve implementation of the Plan.

    (4) The main causes of visual impairment in Europe are uncorrected refractive error (48%), cataract (13%) and macular degeneration (6%), which can affect people from childhood to old age.

    5) Numbers at risk are expected to increase dramatically over the forthcoming years, mainly due to the ageing European population

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  • The International Glaucoma Association launches its 40th Anniversary Appeal

    15 January 2014

    The International Glaucoma Association (IGA) launches its 40th Anniversary Appeal to raise further funds for the diagnosis, management and treatment of glaucoma. In 1974 Ronald Pitts Crick set up the IGA in order to prevent the loss of sight from glaucoma. Over 40 years on, and the organisation has the same mission:

    “To raise awareness of glaucoma, promote research related to early diagnosis and treatment and to provide support to patients and all those that care for them.”

    The work of the IGA is as relevant today as it was 40 years ago. At that time, doctors at King’s College Hospital, where the IGA was first based, were keen to improve patient care and find out more about the practical issues associated with living with glaucoma. The response from patients was enthusiastic, with many wanting more information and research into glaucoma. So, the IGA was formed.

    Forty years later, the IGA has spent around £2.5million researching the causes of glaucoma and finding better ways of detection.  The IGA was the patient representative in the development of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence guidelines for glaucoma and works closely with all of the professional bodies involved in diagnosing and treating people with glaucoma, including Ophthalmologists, Opticians, General Practitioners and Pharmacists.

    The IGA helpline is a valuable source of information to both newly diagnosed patients and people living with glaucoma. It has over 20 leaflets covering the different types of glaucoma and lifestyle issues such as glaucoma and driving, glaucoma and pregnancy.  The IGA website provides information and news for professionals and patients.

    The IGA’s annual awareness campaign has previously focused on raising awareness of eye health, particularly in the over 40s, and this year’s campaign will focus on the African-Caribbean population who are four times at risk of being diagnosed with glaucoma.

    True to its founding principles, the IGA service is provided free of charge. The organisation does not receive any funding from Government and relies on donations, legacies and fundraising.

    Despite greater professional and public awareness, it is widely recognised that there are over 300,000 people in the UK with undiagnosed glaucoma.  It is vital that glaucoma is detected early in order to protect sight. The 40th Anniversary Appeal seeks to raise further awareness of glaucoma amongst at risk groups.

    To find out more about the IGA, the 40th Anniversary appeal, the research that has been funded or how to become involved in our work visit the website: www.iga.org.uk; like us on Facebook or join us on Twitter.

    -ends-

    For more information about IGA contact: Karen Brewer on k.brewer@iga.org.uk or call 01233 64 81 69.

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