• Eye health sector intervenes to stop patients losing sight

    Warnings that hospital initiated delays and cancelled follow up appointments are at crisis point, putting patients' sight at risk, have led to a new cross-sector initiative. It aims to release pressure off the hospital eye health services by treating more people in the community.

    To meet these challenges the Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning (CCEHC), representing the major charity, clinical and provider organisations in the sector, has stepped in to launch a new Primary Eye Care Framework1 for eye health services. The Framework will help commissioners address capacity issues in their area by delivering more support in primary care settings, in line with the NHS Five year Forward View.

    The new Framework complements the Community Ophthalmology Framework2, published by the Clinical Council in 2015. It will empower commissioners and providers to release capacity within hospital through a multidisciplinary approach to treat the right patient in the most appropriate service.

    Launching the new framework David Parkins, Chair of the Clinical Council said: “Patients are now at risk of losing their sight because of delayed appointments and capacity pressures. Radical change is needed and we urge all Clinical Commissioning Groups and Local Eye Health Networks to measure their existing services against these frameworks and use them to expand local capacity to meet need as part of their local Sustainability and Transformation Plans.”

    President of The Royal College of Ophthalmologists, Professor Carrie MacEwen, supports the review of services to ease pressure on overstretched hospital eye health services. She said: “It is critical that the ophthalmic sector develops frameworks that support the growing demands made on the multi-disciplinary workforce. This team provides primary and secondary care for patients and we need to ensure that it is delivered through consistent and recognised training and education standards. We advocate the right eye care professional, at the right time and in the right setting.”


    1, 2

    Notes to editors

    1. Concerns raised by the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, and by MPs in Parliament, led to NHS England organising the country’s first ever high-level eye health summit for NHS commissioners this June.
    4. The Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning (CCEHC) coordinates leading organisations from across eye health services to offer united, evidence-based clinical advice and guidance to those commissioning and delivering eye health services in England on issues where national leadership is needed. Its member organisations are:

    VISION 2020 UK

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  • IGA and SeeAbility introduce new eye drops for glaucoma fact sheet

    The International Glaucoma Association (IGA)  and the charity SeeAbility have introduced a new easy to read fact sheet. It shows how to put eye drops for glaucoma into the eye correctly. The fact sheet contains clear photographs and descriptions of how to use the eye drop bottles and how to place a drop in the eye. It also covers what devices are available to help, and where to go for further help and advice.

    Karen Brewer, Head of Communications at IGA, said: "We hope that the fact sheet will be useful for a wide range of audiences. This includes anyone who needs eye drops for glaucoma, or people who care or work with someone who needs assistance.

    "One of the most common reasons for people defaulting from glaucoma treatment, is due to difficulty in using their eye drops. As it is the eye drops which are helping to control the pressure in the eye, this can mean that damage from glaucoma will continue, which can cause further loss of sight. There are many different aids that are available. The IGA Sightline can help advise on the correct aid for each particular drop. You can just call 01233 64 81 70. You can also visit our website shop where all the aids are available to view and purchase.

    eye drops for glaucoma After using the eye drop, close your eye gently and press softly on the inside corner of your eye for 1 minute.

    SeeAbility registered charity

    SeeAbility is a specialist national registered charity enriching the lives of people who have sight loss and other disabilities, including learning and physical disabilities, mental health difficulties, acquired brain injury and life limiting conditions.

    You can download a copy of the SeeAbility and IGA glaucoma fact sheet.


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  • Family Focus for National Glaucoma Awareness Week 2016 as IGA Urges Regular Eye Checks for Families of Glaucoma Patients

    For this year’s National Glaucoma Awareness Week, 6-12 June, The International Glaucoma Association (IGA) is focusing on the need for close relatives of a known glaucoma patient, to have regular eye checks to prevent possible sight loss. Parents, children, brothers or sisters are up to four times more likely to develop glaucoma, when compared to people without a family history of glaucoma*.

    IGA NGAW 2016 - Family Tree

    It is estimated that there are 600,000 people with glaucoma in the UK today, but half are undiagnosed. It is the most common cause of preventable blindness, yet many people are unaware that glaucoma has no symptoms in the early stages. But, 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.  Once sight is lost it cannot be recovered.

    Regular eye checks

    Russell Young CEO of the IGA comments: “Our research has shown that one in three people (32 per cent)[i] diagnosed with glaucoma did not know glaucoma can be inherited. This is worrying given the increased risk that relatives have of developing the condition. When it comes to the general public, awareness of the inherited link is significantly lower, with only 49 per cent[ii] being aware of the link with family history.”

    Continues Russell, “We regularly hear from people who have irretrievably lost their sight to glaucoma, as they haven’t had regular eye health checks.  People are often angry and upset, to know that a quick and regular visit to their high street optometrist would have detected the condition. It is critical that family members have regular eye health checks throughout life, at least every two years, and more regularly if advised by a health professional. The earlier treatment starts the more likely that someone will retain useful sight for life.”

    The IGA believes that everyone should have regular eye health checks, at least every two years and works with optometrists, eye clinic staff, voluntary groups and people across the country to help prevent sight loss unnecessarily. For people with a family history of glaucoma, eye checks are free in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for those aged over 40, and free in Scotland regardless of age.

    Glaucoma Facts

    • Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions in which the main nerve to the eye (the optic nerve) is damaged where it leaves 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.
    • Glaucoma is more common in people over the age of 40.
    • There are no early symptoms of glaucoma
    • Symptoms of advanced glaucoma include missing, patchy vision and even serious loss of vision
    • Regular eye health checks (every two years, or every 1-2 years for over 40s) will detect conditions such as glaucoma, which is important given there are no early symptoms
    • With regular treatment for glaucoma, vision and driving licences can be protected
    • Most people with glaucoma will be safe to drive for many years, but it important to alert the DVLA to the condition if advised by an ophthalmologist.


    Notes for editors:

    • *references available

    For further information or to interview an IGA spokesperson, please contact: Karen Brewer, Head of Communications on 01233 64 81 69 or email

    Please see attached a case study of Hayley Mason’s glaucoma experience.  Further case studies are available on request: Hayley Mason Case study

    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
    2. Set up in 1974, it is the oldest patient based glaucoma association in the world and it is a Charity Registered in Scotland and also England & Wales.
    3. 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).

    Close relatives in England, Wales and Northern Ireland can have a sight test and examination by an optometrist which is paid for by the NHS if they are aged over 40, and everyone is entitled to free testing over the age of 60. In Scotland, the NHS will pay for glaucoma examinations offered by optometrists, regardless of age.

    [i] IGA Members research (n=977), 2014

    [ii] IGA Research (Fly Research 2014)

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  • Mr William Blake FCIT FILT FIEM 2 September 1929 to 27 May 2016

    It is with great sadness that we announce that Mr William (Bill) Blake, former IGA Trustee passed away quietly on Friday 27th May, aged 86.

    Bill made an enormous contribution to the IGA in his many years as Honorary Treasurer, Chairman of the Chair Trust and later Vice Chair of the charity.

    The effects of his work have been important and far-reaching. He was tireless in his efforts to raise awareness of both the IGA and glaucoma. He combined his passion and commitment to the Lion’s Club, with his dedication to the IGA and ensured that glaucoma and our charity was firmly placed at the centre of the Lion’s Eye Health programme – a community based education programme promoting healthy vision and raising awareness of the causes of preventable vision loss.

    Bill’s working life was rich and varied. He was an experienced consultant and specialist in crisis management, having had more than 40 years involvement in the civil aviation and transport industry.

    As a senior operations manager of British Airways until 1983, he had special worldwide responsibilities for Contingency and Emergency Planning and co-coordination. He provided consultancy services in crisis management to major airlines as well as two overseas Governments.

    He jointly designed and later directed the Master degree course in Civil Emergency Management at the University of Hertfordshire. He was a director of Blake Emergency Services Ltd and Blake Information Centre and was Chairman of the Institute of Emergency Management.

    His wise counsel was invaluable to both trustees and staff. His calm and patient nature made him an asset to the team at the International Glaucoma Association, who have all been personally touched by his support and friendship.

    A fuller tribute to Bill will follow in the IGA News.

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  • IGA Professor of Glaucoma recognised as one of most influential people in ophthalmology today

    IGA professor recognised for his glaucoma researchIGA Professor of Ophthalmology, Glaucoma and Allied Studies is recognised for the second consecutive year as one of the most influential people in ophthalmology today. For the second year running, Professor David Garway-Health has been included on the Ophthalmologist Power List 2016.

    Comments Russell Young; "Professor Garway-Heath's achievements are considerable. We are fortunate that, as well as his work as the Vice President of the European Glaucoma Society, his work with the University of London, his Consultant position at Moorfields Eye Hospital, he is also able to act as a clinical advisor and spokesperson for the IGA".

    Research by David (Ted) Garway-Heath has provided many new tools that are in widespread use today. These include the Moorfields Motion Displacement Test; The Moorfields Regression Analysis, a software program for imaging performance in tomography; and the Garway-Heath Map, used in research to establish the correlation between visual field and optic nerve hypoplasia changes. In addition, his work on the UK Glaucoma Treatment Study showed that it was possible to reduce considerably the period needed to identify treatment effects, thus increasing the likelihood of bringing new drugs more quickly and more cost-effectively to patients.

    For the full PowerList click here

    Note to editors


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  • New CEO for International Glaucoma Association

    Karen Osborn will join the International Glaucoma Association (IGA) as CEO at the end of July 2016. Karen has a strong background in developing both strategy and services for people with visual impairments, having spent the past nine years as CEO for Kent Association for the Blind.

    improving glaucoma treatment, Karen OsbornCommenting on the appointment, Chair of the IGA, Keith Barton says, “Karen stood out in a competitive field as our unanimous choice to lead the IGA.  She has an exceptional record of working with other charities, and we were impressed by her enthusiasm and ideas for the IGA. She has the experience, charisma and strategic outlook to take service provision forward and to enhance our role as a research funder”.

    Karen’s career is firmly rooted in supporting people with complex physical and mental health needs. Having started as a residential worker with MIND, she has since managed rehabilitation and therapeutic services for people with a range of physical, sensory, learning disability and mental health needs at Thrive, and directed volunteer and housing support for a disability charity in London.

    Karen said of her appointment, “I’m delighted to be joining the IGA and I’m looking forward to the challenge of implementing the new strategy and taking glaucoma services and research to the next level”.

    Current CEO Russell Young retires in July having led the organisation for the last three years. Formerly from the pharmaceutical industry, Russell has spent much of his career working with health care professionals and patients focussed on improving glaucoma treatment and care. In his words, “I was fortunate to have been introduced to glaucoma by Mr Pitts Crick, an inspirational teacher and Consultant Ophthalmologist at Kings College Hospital, London, who also founded the International Glaucoma Association”.

    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


    For further information please contact Karen Brewer/Richenda Kew on: 01233 64 81 64 or email: or

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  • IGA response to Royal College of Ophthalmologists increasing demand on hospital eye services

    People with glaucoma are increasingly being let down by eye clinic departments with cancelled appointments as they are being overwhelmed by an increase in the number of patients being diagnosed and living with glaucoma. The impact this can have on a person with glaucoma is significant. Glaucoma often occurs because of raised pressure in the eye, which leads to damage to the optic nerve, causing sight loss. Once sight is lost from glaucoma, it cannot be recovered. Life-long treatment, often in the form of eye drops, is needed in order to control eye pressure.



    Patients will be under the care of an Ophthalmologist (Eye care Consultant) at the hospital to monitor and treat their condition. This often involves changes to eye drop medication, and can lead to laser or surgical treatment. Without appropriate and timely care, a glaucoma patient can irretrievably lose sight having a significant negative impact on their quality of life.
    Comments Russell Young, CEO IGA: “We know from our helpline, and from our own visits to hospital departments, a significant number of patients suffer from delayed or postponed appointments on a regular basis. This is unacceptable. People with glaucoma are often elderly, and feel uncomfortable about challenging the health system. We urge them to act, and to either contact the eye health department themselves or request a friend or relative to do so on their behalf. It is vital that appointments are made and kept”.
    The IGA is a member of the Clinical Council for Eye Health Commissioning Group which provides recommendations to the NHS about how services can be re-organised to ensure patients are cared for correctly and appropriately. The IGA supports the Royal College of Ophthalmologists in the need for better data collection, better monitoring of eye health services and better use of qualified staff. This includes optometrists, ophthalmic nurses, ECLO’s, orthoptists and pharmacists who can all play a vital role in supporting people who have been diagnosed and living with glaucoma.

    For further information about IGA and glaucoma, contact: Karen Brewer, 01233 64 81 69 or email:

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  • Professor of Ophthalmology for Glaucoma and Allied Studies takes up position as European Glaucoma Society Vice President

    Professor David (Ted) Garway-Heath, the IGA Professor of Ophthalmology for Glaucoma and Allied Studies, has been appointed Vice President of the European Glaucoma Society (EGS) and takes up his full position in 2016. His first meeting as Vice President of the EGS takes place at the annual meeting in June 2016.

    Glaucoma research professor

    Professor Garway Health is based at University College London (UCL) and is Theme Leader for Vision Assessment and Imaging at the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre based at Moorfields Eye Hospital and University City London Institute of Ophthalmology.

    In addition to his clinical work, Professor Garway-Heath's research focuses on the development and evaluation of techniques for effective diagnosis, monitoring and management of glaucoma, the identification of risk factors for glaucoma progression and decision-support systems for healthcare delivery services.

    He is the author of over 180 peer-reviewed publications. Professor Garway-Heath was bestowed the prestigious Alcon Research Institute Award for "outstanding contributors to ophthalmic research" as well as the World Glaucoma Association Research Recognition Award. He was also cited as one of the 100 most influential people in ophthalmology worldwide in 2014 in The Ophthalmologist magazine power list.

    For more information on Professor Garway-Heath's achievements.

    For more information on registration to the European Glaucoma Society 2016 annual meeting.

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  • Vision Express and IGA working together for World Glaucoma Week 2016

    The International Glaucoma Association is focusing on the need for regular eye health checks to detect glaucoma, during this year’s World Glaucoma Week 2016. With 64 million people with glaucoma globally, and an estimated rise to 76 million, it is vital that people recognise the importance of eye health.

    A visit to the optometrist will quickly detect whether there is a risk of glaucoma, and once diagnosed, glaucoma can be treated. Although any sight lost due to glaucoma cannot be recovered, with regular treatment, useful sight can be maintained for life. This is particularly true in the UK, where it is estimated that there are 600,000 people with glaucoma, but around 50 per cent of these people are undiagnosed.

    As a charity, the IGA is delighted that national optical retailer, Vision Express is working with IGA to raise awareness of the importance of regular eye health checks. IGA staff will be supporting the Vision Express state of the art mobile van which is touring the UK, offering free eye health checks during World Glaucoma Week. Staff from Vision Express and IGA will be available to offer information on how glaucoma is detected, who is at risk and the types of treatment available.

    Comments Russell Young, CEO at International Glaucoma Association: “We are delighted to be working with Vision Express on this awareness raising initiative. We know that people often don’t have an eye health check, until they realise something is wrong with their vision. Unfortunately with glaucoma, this can mean that 40 per cent of the vision is already lost and will never be recovered. This is tragic, given that a simple eye health check could have detected glaucoma and treatment could have commenced. So long as treatment is continued, most people in the UK will retain useful sight for life”.


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  • Specsavers and IGA raise awareness of glaucoma during World Glaucoma Week 2016

    The International Glaucoma Association is focusing on the need for regular eye health checks to detect glaucoma, during this year’s World Glaucoma Week 2016. With 64 million people with glaucoma globally and an estimated rise to 76 million, it is vital that people recognise the importance of eye health.

    A visit to the optometrist will quickly detect whether there is a risk of glaucoma, and once diagnosed, glaucoma can be treated. Although any sight lost due to glaucoma cannot be recovered, with regular treatment, useful sight can be maintained for life. This is particularly true in the UK, where it is estimated that there are 600,000 people with glaucoma, but around 50 per cent of these people are undiagnosed.

    As a charity the IGA relies on the generosity of its members to help fund vital services including our helpline and our free patient literature. We are therefore delighted that the national optometry chain, Specsavers has chosen to both raise awareness of glaucoma and to raise funds for IGA during World Glaucoma Week 2016.

    Specsavers will be donating £1.00 to the IGA for every tonometry test (puff test) which is performed in its stores during World Glaucoma Week.

    Comments Karen Brewer, Head of Communications at the IGA “We are delighted that Specsavers are raising awareness of glaucoma in the community. In the UK, it is the most common cause of preventable sight loss, yet many are unaware that glaucoma has no symptoms in the early stages and this is why regular sight tests are so important”.


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