• Can you see to drive? National Glaucoma Awareness Week 2015

    The focus for National Glaucoma Awareness Week, 8-14 June 2015 is on driving and encouraging 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 be safe to drive for many years.

    Driving and our ability and safety to do so, is something that many people take for granted. Yet, how many people have a regular eye health check to ensure that their vision is accurate? Even if a person can see a number plate at 20 metres, how many have been tested for glaucoma which affects vision?

    There is an estimated 600,000 people with glaucoma in the UK, but 300,000 are undiagnosed. As there are no early symptoms it is vital that people over the age of 40 have regular eye health checks every one or two years. Advanced glaucoma leads to serious loss of sight.

    Comments Russell Young, CEO of the International Glaucoma Association “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 safety and detect if there is any risk of glaucoma. Glaucoma is a complex condition, in that the brain fills in what the eyes cannot see. Many people will insist their vision is perfectly normal even when there is significant loss of vision”.

    “Around 10 per cent of the calls we receive to our helpline 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 most will be found safe to drive”, Young continues.

    Glaucoma causes misty, patchy or blurred vision in places. It can cause people to miss the unexpected such as a person crossing the road, a cyclist passing, or a vehicle merging into traffic. The only way to know for sure about your vision and your safety on the roads is to have regular eye health checks every one to two years, particularly if you are over the age of 40.

    “It is important people know if they do have glaucoma that has caused damage to vision in both eyes, they 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 good news about glaucoma is with ongoing treatment people can protect their vision and most people will retain useful sight for life”, Young concludes.
    Further information about glaucoma and driving can be found on the IGA website, or via the Sightline (helpline) on 01233 64 81 70. Awareness pack materials including posters, banners, Glaucoma and Driving leaflet can be ordered by emailing:


    For further information about the week, please write to Karen Brewer (by post or email, 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 01223 64 81 69 or email

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  • National Glaucoma Awareness Week 2015: are you safe to drive?

    27 January 2015

    This year's National Glaucoma Awareness Week will take place on the 8 - 14 June 2015. The focus will be on driving and encouraging 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, that people will know if their driving vision is affected. This is particularly important with glaucoma, as it has no early symptoms. But, with early detection and continued treatment people will often retain useful sight for life and be safe to drive for many years.

    Information packs including posters, leaflets, banners and facts on glaucoma and driving will be available for despatch in April. If you are interested in receiving a pack or would like to find out more about the week please email:

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  • Marking World Glaucoma Week, 8 - 14 March 2015

    4 March 2015

    Next week marks the beginning of World Glaucoma Week (8 - 14 March), where countries around the world raise awareness of the importance of regular eye health checks.

    The International Glaucoma Association will be highlighting the importance of regular eye health checks for people who are at an increased risk of glaucoma. Comments Russell Young, CEO of IGA:

    "With an estimated 300,000 people living with undetected glaucoma in the UK today, it is vital that more is done to reach groups who are at greater risk of glaucoma. This includes anyone over the age of 40, close blood relatives of people with glaucoma and African Caribbeans.” We are working with optometrists around the country to reinforce this message.

    Members of the IGA will also find out more about research that the IGA is funding via the AGM which is being held on Friday 13 March at The Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining in London. Keynote presenters include Dr Paul Foster who heads up the UK BioBank Project and the Glaucoma Data Analysis Research Project; and Mr Ananth Viswanathan, who is the Chairman of the Honorary Medical Advisory Panel to the UK Secretary of State on Visual Disorders and Driving, and Consultant Surgeon at Moorfields.

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  • John Hughes IGA talks to Inverclyde Radio about glaucoma

    12 January 2015

    John Hughes, IGA Scottish Manager, discusses glaucoma and the importance of regular eye health checks, with radio presenter David Faller on Inverclyde Radio. John also provides information about the latest guidelines that will be in place to help with the detection and management of glaucoma, due to be published in March 2015.

    To listen to the interview visit the Health Matters page

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  • The Lancet: Most commonly prescribed glaucoma drug reduces risk of vision loss by more than 50 per cent over 2 years

    19 December 2014

    Prostaglandin analogue eye drops, the most commonly prescribed treatment for glaucoma, can greatly reduce risk of vision loss in people with open angle glaucoma (OAG), one of the leading causes of blindness, according to the first placebo-controlled trial to assess their vision-preserving effect published in The Lancet.

    “Medication to lower raised eye pressure has been used for decades as the main treatment for OAG to delay progressive vision loss. But, until now, the extent to which the most frequently prescribed class of pressure-lowering drugs (prostaglandin analogues) have a protective effect on vision was not known” *, explains David Garway-Heath, lead author and International Glaucoma Association Professor of Ophthalmology at the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at Moorfields Eye Hospital and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, London, UK. “Our findings offer solid proof to patients and practitioners that the visual deterioration caused by glaucoma can be reduced using this treatment.”*

    OAG is the most common form of glaucoma affecting more than 550000 people in England and Wales and about 45 million worldwide, projected to increase to 53 million in 2020 and 80 million in 2040 [1]. Vision loss from glaucoma occurs when the optic nerve is damaged. In most cases, increased pressure inside the eye (intraocular pressure), is thought to contribute to this damage.

    The United Kingdom Glaucoma Treatment Study (UKGTS) recruited 516 newly diagnosed, previously untreated individuals with OAG from 10 hospitals across the UK.

    Half were randomly assigned to daily pressure-lowering eye drops (latanoprost 0.005%) and the other half to a matching placebo. Over the course of 2 years, participants underwent frequent visual field tests to identify glaucoma deterioration to an extent that would not be noticed by the patient.

    In the 59 patients in the placebo group and 35 patients in the latanoprost group whose vision deteriorated during the study period, the risk of visual deterioration was over 50% lower in the group treated with daily pressure-lowering eye drops compared to those using placebo drops over 2 years. Importantly, a significant difference in treatment effects could be seen between the groups after just 12 months. Eighteen serious adverse events were reported (9 in the placebo group and 9 in the latanoprost group) but none were viewed as related to latanoprost.

    According to Professor Garway-Heath, “Normally, observation periods in trials are at least 5 years. We have shown that with more frequent testing, data can be collected using shorter observation periods. This will bring considerable benefits including speeding up novel drug development, reducing costs, and increasing the likelihood of bringing new drugs to patients.”*

    Writing in a linked Comment, Dr Anders Heijl from Lund University, Malmö, Sweden, points out, “Since modern glaucoma treatment is based on reduction of intraocular pressure, and because glaucoma management uses about 25% of all ophthalmology resources, this is a fundamental issue in ophthalmic care…These results should motivate careful clinical follow-up and monitoring of disease progression in patients with glaucoma, and should also serve as a stimulus to the pharmaceutical industry to continue development of new and even more potent drugs.”

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  • European Coalition for Vision calls for more harmonized data collected at EU level

    10 December 2014

    European Coalition for Vision (ECV) regrets the lack of data on vision impairment in Europe and calls for more harmonized data collected at EU level to provide better policy advice to decision-makers. Vision is a vital part of the health dimension that is too often neglected. ECV’s objective is promote a EU eye health indicator that would address this issue.  European Coalition for Vision welcomes the report “Health at a glance: Europe 2014” presented on 3rd December 2014 by Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis. The report, based mainly on the European Core Health Indicators (ECHI), highlights key trends in health, providing a state of play of Europe’s health.  Chair of ECV, Mr. Peter Ackland, stated: “This report is essential as it provides a good overview of the state of health in the member states. We call on the Commission and Member States to develop and promote a EU eye health indicator, that would complement the data on health to include the field of vision – that would help stimulate further public policy actions in the eye health domain”.  Representing professional bodies, patient groups, European and national health, and disability NGOs as well as trade associations representing suppliers, the ECV aims at raising the profile of eye health and vision to reduce the unacceptably high levels of avoidable vision impairment and blindness, and to secure an equal and inclusive society for those with low vision and irreversible blindness in Europe.  More information on ECV can be found: Manifesto:  For further information on the European Coalition for Vision, please contact:  Zoe Gray

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  • Visual component of UK driving test needs modernising

    26 November 2014

    Researchers from City University London have found that the visual component of the UK driving test is outdated.

    Using the latest technology, the study - which is published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology - shows that the current test used to assess fitness to drive is likely not assessing the right areas of the visual field. The findings might prompt the design of a fairer eye sight test ensuring with greater accuracy that only those safe to drive are present on the roads.

    To measure the effects of different visual impairments the researchers developed a novel computer setup. This technology gave people with normal vision ‘simulated’ sight loss in different areas of their vision whilst they tried to detect hazards in movies of driving scenes.

    The team found that a loss of the upper part of someone’s visual field had a larger impact on their ability to detect driving hazards than those with a loss in the lower part. Unfortunately the current test used by DSA (Driving Standards Agency) to assess patients with eye disease tends to test more areas in the lower part of the visual field.

    David Crabb, lead author on the study and Professor of Statistics and Vision Research at City University London, said:

    “The current test used to examine the visual field component for legal fitness to drive in patients with eye disease in the UK is far from ideal. Our study goes some little way to highlight this.

    “The visual component of fitness to drive is a very tricky to assess. Yet, at the moment some people are losing or retaining their driving licence on a far from perfect test. We need more research in this area, especially on what parts of vision are needed for safe driving.”

    Russell Young, CEO of International Glaucoma Association, which provided a research award to fund this work said:

    “These are important early findings which begin to question the suitability of the Esterman visual field test that is currently being used to assess a person’s fitness and safety to drive. People with glaucoma in both eyes are required by the DSA to take this test; they are often worried about what to expect, and stressed about the impact on their quality of life if they have to relinquish their licence.

    “The current test developed over 30 years ago, was not designed with driving in mind and, as this new research highlights, it probably doesn’t test the important parts of the visual field well enough. Further investment is needed to fund the design and development of improved tests and technology for assessing the visual field component of fitness to drive.”

    “It is vital that people with glaucoma and other visual impairments as well as the driving authorities are confident in the tests and equipment being used.”


    Click here for a copy of the study To speak to Professor David Crabb (@crabblab), please contact George Wigmore, Senior Communications Officer at the School of Health Sciences, City University London. E: T: 0207 040 8782 M: 07989 643 112

    For more information please contact: Karen Brewer (International Glaucoma Association), 01233 64 81 64. M: 0751 636 9630. email:

    For more information about Glaucoma and Driving, see the IGA driving leaflet.

    About The International Glaucoma Association

    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

    About City University London

    City University London is a global University committed to academic excellence, with a focus on business and the professions and an enviable central London location.  It is in the top five per cent of universities in the world according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2013/14 and in the top thirty universities in the UK according to the Times Higher Education Table of Tables 2012. It is ranked in the top 10 in the UK for both graduate-level jobs (The Good University Guide 2014) and in the top 5 for graduate starting salaries (Lloyds Bank).

    The University attracts over 17,000 students (35% at postgraduate level) from more than 150 countries and academic staff from over 50 countries.  Its academic range is broadly-based with world leading strengths in business; law; health sciences; engineering; mathematical sciences; informatics; social sciences; and the arts including journalism and music. The University’s history dates back to 1894, with the foundation of the Northampton Institute on what is now the main part of City’s campus. In 1966, City was granted University status by Royal Charter and the Lord Mayor of London was invited to be Chancellor, a unique arrangement that continues today. Professor Paul Curran has been Vice-Chancellor of City University London since 2010.

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  • New Driving and Glaucoma leaflet available

    21 November 2014

    The new Driving and glaucoma leaflet is now available, free of charge from the IGA. The leaflet includes information on when to report glaucoma to the DVLA, the tests that the DVLA will ask the applicant to take, what to expect from the tests and from the testing optometrist (optician). Additional information includes clarification on the testing conditions for the visual field test and the fact that up to three visual field tests can be taken in certain circumstances.

    Comments Karen Brewer, Head of Marketing and PR, “driving and the possible loss of a licence can be a traumatic experience for people with glaucoma. Around ten per cent of calls to our helpline are from people who are worried or concerned about the tests, the process, and the results. We hope that this leaflet addresses those questions and concerns, and is useful to people who may be reapplying for their licence, whether for the first time, or for subsequent renewals”.

    For more information on Driving and Glaucoma, or any aspect of glaucoma, contact our helpline on or call: 01233 64 81 70.

    The IGA provides individual leaflets free of charge on request to all individuals and to professionals in batches of 50. Please order by email through contacting: or calling 01233 64 81 64 or order via the website:

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  • How watching TV can help to detect glaucoma

    20 November 2014

    Professor David Crabb of City of London University explains on the BBC World Service, how research has used eye tracking software coupled with popular TV, to detect glaucoma. The research is fascinating and shows how advances in technology, investment in eye tracking software, can be used to both help and provide possible options for ongoing management of the condition, which is life-long.

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  • Bono helps to raise awareness of glaucoma

    21 October 2014

    The recent announcement by U2 lead singer Bono having had glaucoma for the last 20 years, has helped to raise national and international awareness of the sight loss condition. Whilst it is estimated that there are 600,000 people with glaucoma in the UK today, about half of these are undiagnosed. Widespread national press coverage of Bono's announcement will lead to more people thinking about their eye health, and having regular checks at their local optician.

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