Imagine life without your vision. Simple tasks that many of us take for granted such as driving, working at a computer or even just making lunch would be virtually impossible.
But for the half a million people across Britain and 70 million people around the world who suffer from glaucoma, the threat of going blind is very real. At present, one in 10 sufferers go blind due to late diagnosis, drugs not working or a particularly severe case.
This week is World Glaucoma Week, which aims to maximise global and local awareness of glaucoma – a group of eye diseases that cause progressive damage of the optic nerve.
Glaucoma develops when the fluid that runs through the eye becomes obstructed, causing pressure to build up in the eye. It is one of the most common causes of blindness worldwide*, yet if it’s detected early enough, the condition can be easily managed without any impact on the patient’s vision or day-to-day activity – so ensuring that you get your eyes tested regularly is vital.
According to the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), everyone should have a sight test at least once every two years, but a recent survey by YouGov showed that nearly a third of UK adults have failed to have their eyes tested in the last 24 months, putting themselves at risk of developing a range of potentially serious eye conditions.
Dr Joseph Feder, a board-certified ophthalmologist at the Aurora Health Center, said: “Not all age-related eye conditions are routine. At every eye exam, we are on the look-out for potentially devastating eye diseases such as glaucoma and macular degeneration (AMD). These diseases often begin ‘silently’ and, if left untreated, can cause blindness.”
And his opinion is backed up by Clara Eaglen, Policy and Campaigns Manager at the RNIB, who said: “Our eye sight can deteriorate as we get older, but sight loss isn’t an inevitable consequence of ageing. There are things people can do to protect their vision.
”Wearing the right prescription glasses or contact lenses is essential and regular eye tests, at least every two years, can pick up conditions such as AMD or glaucoma.”
So why are people avoiding regular sight tests? YouGov’s research claims that it’s down to awareness, having the time to arrange an appointment and the cost.
Fourteen per cent of the 2,102 British adults questioned said that they delay getting their eyes tested because they cannot afford the perceived cost, and 26 per cent claimed that they had not had time to arrange a test.
Westfield Health’s cash plans include an optical benefit, which enables policyholders to manage their eye care by providing money back towards the cost of sight tests and prescription eyewear, up to set limits.
As published on westfieldhealth.com on 14th march 2012