300,000 Brits blind to the fact they are losing their sight
To mark National Glaucoma Awareness Week (6 – 12 June 2016) the Eyecare Trust*, today issued a stark warning that has many as 300,000 people in the UK are at risk of going blind because they are living with undiagnosed glaucoma** - a sight threatening eye disease that is often symptom less until vision has been irrecoverably lost.
Ethnicity, age and genetics are all factors that can influence your risk of suffering from open angle glaucoma – the most common form of the condition, with people of Afro-Caribbean origin, those aged 40+ and men all at the greatest risk of avoidable sight loss.
The Trust is inviting everyone to take a simple test to discover whether they are at high, moderate, or low risk of glaucoma. Anyone at high risk of the disease is being urged to take URGENT action to prevent needless loss of vision and the inevitable impact this can have on your quality of life.
Visual disturbance can prevent glaucoma sufferers from driving – by law a motorist must have visual fields of 120°+ whilst a recent study found glaucoma patients were more likely to suffer depression than those who have healthy vision***.
Early detection of the condition through routine sight testing is vital for the successful treatment of glaucoma which, when caught early, can often be easily managed and arrested using eye drops or in certain cases laser treatment.”
Unfortunately all too often glaucoma sufferers visit their optician when the condition is advanced and it’s too late to save loss of vision.”
Everyone should have a routine eye examination once every two years and those who are most at risk of glaucoma (for example people aged 40+ with a family history of the condition or with ocular hypertension) are entitled to annual eye examinations paid for by the NHS.
Worryingly, research conducted by the Eyecare Trust reveals 40% of us do not have a sight test once every two years as recommended****.
See below for the Trust's ‘know your risks’ questionnaire.
* The Eyecare Trust is a registered charity that exists to raise awareness of all aspects of ocular health and the importance of regular eye care.
** Glaucoma is a name given to group of eye conditions that affect the optic nerve and disturb peripheralvision. A fact sheet about the condition is available from the Trust’s website www.eyecaretrust.org.uk. Prevalence estimated using statistical data produced by a number of institutions including Imperial College London and the RNIB.
*** J Glaucoma. 2008 Oct-Nov;17(7):546-51.
**** The Trust’s eyedentity survey was conducted by One Poll
Glaucoma 'Know Your Risk' Questionnaire (available for publication)
To help assess your risk of suffering from glaucoma answer the following questions and then add your scores together.
1. How old are you?
Less than 50 years 0
50 - 64 years 1
65 -75 years 2
Greater than 75 years 3
2. Which of the following best describes your ethnic origin?
Caucasian / other 0
3. Do you have a family history of glaucoma?
No family history of glaucoma 0
Family history but not first
degree relatives 0
Parent has history of glaucoma 1
Brother or sister has glaucoma 2
4. When did you last have an eye examination?
Within the past two years 0
2 - 5 years ago 1
More than 5 years ago 2
4 or more - you have a high risk of open angle glaucoma
3 - you have a moderate risk of open angle glaucoma
2 or less - you have a low risk of suffering from open angle glaucoma
Other factors such as high myopia (short-sight) or hyperopia (long-sight); systemic hypertension, steroids and diabetes can also increase your risk of glaucoma although they are not strong enough to be weighted on the above table.
* This questionnaire is based on an analysis of the risk factors of glaucoma conducted as part of Glaucoma2001.