• 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:; like us on Facebook or join us on Twitter.


    For more information about IGA contact: Karen Brewer on or call 01233 64 81 69.

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