The International Glaucoma Association is focusing on the importance of eye pressure in detecting glaucoma as part of National Glaucoma Awareness Week (12 – 18 June 2017).
People regularly check the pressure in car tyres, the boiler and even check their blood pressure regularly but who thinks about eye pressure?
It is the pressure in the eye which keeps it inflated. If it is too high it can lead to irreversible damage to the optic nerve leading to loss of vision. It is estimated that there are 64 million people with glaucoma worldwide and 600,000 in the UK, with half undetected.
“People have such a limited knowledge about the health of their eyes. All too often we hear that people do not have an eye health check until they realise that something is wrong with their vision. This is too late for glaucoma as a significant amount of vision will be lost and it can never be recovered,” comments Karen Osborn, Chief Executive of the International Glaucoma Association.
This year’s campaign is to educate people about the importance of eye pressure as part of a regular eye health check. If detected early, glaucoma can be managed and useful sight can usually be maintained throughout life.
The tests are quick, simple and convenient. A visit to the local high-street optician is all that is needed to see if you are at risk of glaucoma. There are three simple tests which include:
- Looking at the appearance of the main nerve in the eye, called the optic nerve (ophthalmoscopy)
- Measuring the pressure in the eye, often referred to as the air puff test, (tonometry)
- Checking the field of vision (perimetry). In Scotland there is a fourth test called pachymetry which measures the corneal thickness.
“Our helpline takes calls from people who are shocked to realise that had they had an eye health check earlier, then they may not have lost a significant portion of their sight. Glaucoma is known as the silent thief of sight for a good reason, as the brain fills in the missing parts of vision and it isn’t until there is significant sight loss that a person thinks to visit an optometrist who can help to detect what is happening”.
The IGA believes that everyone should have an eye health check every two years and more frequently if advised by a health professional.
About the International Glaucoma Association:
The International Glaucoma Association (IGA) is the charity for people with glaucoma. Its mission is 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: www.glaucoma-association.com
- Set up in 1974, it is the oldest patient based glaucoma association in the world and it is a registered charity in England and Wales, and also in Scotland
- As part of its support services, the IGA operates the Sightline (telephone helpline) and provides free information on any aspect of glaucoma.
- For more information about glaucoma, contact the International Glaucoma Association (IGA) Sightline on 01233 64 81 70 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am–5.00pm).
- In England, Wales and Northern Ireland close relatives of people with glaucoma who are aged 40 plus can have a sight test and examination by an optometrist which is paid for by the NHS, and everyone aged 60 and over is entitled to free testing In Scotland, the NHS will pay for glaucoma examinations offered by optometrists, regardless of age.