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Optical | Health and expertise | Press release | Famous faces fight glaucoma – you can too

Famous faces fight glaucoma – you can too

21 february 2018

Press release

More than 64 million people around the world[1] – including famous faces such as Whoopi Goldberg and Bono – are at risk of having their vision stolen by a condition often dubbed as the ‘silent thief of sight’. That is why this Glaucoma Awareness Week (June 17-23), Specsavers is highlighting the importance of looking after our eyes.

An estimated 700,000 of people are living with glaucoma in the UK, with half not even realising they have it. That means thousands of us are in danger of going blind from glaucoma due to its gradual onset, in most cases without any symptoms. But as long as you are sensible you don’t need to let it take over your life.

Karen Osborn Chief Executive of the International Glaucoma Association (IGA) says: ‘We regularly hear from people who have permanently lost sight to glaucoma because of late diagnosis. People are often angry and upset to learn that simple regular visits to their local high street optometrist could have detected the condition. The earlier treatment starts, the more likely that someone will retain useful sight for life, so it’s great that so many Specsavers stores are on board with Awareness Week.’

Specsavers clinical spokesperson, Dr Nigel Best, says: ‘The good news is glaucoma can generally be treated effectively if detected early, and in most cases, daily eye drops are used.’

Glaucoma usually occurs when naturally-occurring fluid inside the eye does not drain properly, leading to a build-up of pressure. This can then cause damage to the optic nerve and nerve fibres from the retina. While the condition cannot be reversed, it can be managed – but early detection is key.

Dr Nigel Best, says: ‘There are several factors which can increase your risk of developing glaucoma such as a family history of the disease. Other risk factors include those who have black-African or Asian heritage as well as those who have higher levels of short sightedness. Of course, age also needs to be considered as two in every 100 people over the age of 40 are affected with the condition.'

With the most common form of glaucoma visual loss is initially very subtle, affecting mainly the peripheral vision rather than central, which can make it harder to notice. Many don’t realise there is anything wrong with their sight which is why regular visits to the optician are essential.

It is vitally important people attend regular check-ups at their optician to check for any signs. At your appointment your optometrist will carry out an eye pressure test to see if you might have or are at risk of developing glaucoma. A visual field test may also be used to detect any subtle blind spots you may not be aware of, which can also be an indicator of the condition.

More than half of the Specsavers stores in the UK have already invested in 3D scanning technology which allows optometrists to view the eye in more detail than ever before.

The Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) machine is a cutting-edge piece of equipment, usually found in hospital eye departments. It is used for a variety of functions including screening and management of conditions such as age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.

The technology produces a structural scan of the eye, including layers of the eye that would not normally be visible using traditional eye testing techniques. This means that conditions like glaucoma can be monitored more effectively than before.
And optometrists in most Specsavers stores have taken additional accreditations in glaucoma management to improve their skills. Many staff members have been further trained to better support customers with glaucoma – including how to administrate eye drops effectively.

Specsavers and the IGA recommends everyone should get an eye test once every two years or more regularly if advised by a health professional. For further information or to book an appointment visit: https://www.specsavers.co.uk/