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 Is your company glaucoma aware?

Jim Lythgow

This Glaucoma Awareness Week Specsavers Corporate Eyecare is encouraging employers to provide regular eye tests for employees, to help with the early detection of the potentially life-changing condition. Glaucoma Awareness Week runs from 17 to 23 June 2019. Contributor Jim Lythgow, Director of strategic alliances – Specsavers Corporate Eyecare.

Statistics: many are undiagnosed
Glaucoma is the 2nd leading cause of irreversible slight loss in the UK (after age-related macular degeneration1). Sixty-seven percent of glaucoma remains undiagnosed; previously undetected cases are largely identified at routine sight tests by community optometrists2.

300,000 people in the UK are unaware that they are slowly losing their sight3.

What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma refers to a group of eye conditions where damage has occurred to the optic nerve. This nerve carries information from the eye to the brain about what is being seen. If the optic nerve is damaged, vision is lost. This can result in misty or patchy vision and, in rarer cases, eventual complete loss of central vision.

Early detection essential
Once vision is lost due to glaucoma, it cannot be recovered. Early diagnosis and regular treatments can, however, help to maintain useful sight for the vast majority of people. 

Glaucoma is usually painless and does not present any symptoms until it is well advanced. There is only one way to detect and monitor glaucoma – through an eye test with an optometrist. It is important, therefore, to have regular eye health checks to test for glaucoma. 

Eye tests for glaucoma include:

Checking the appearance of the optic nerve

Measuring the pressure in the eye

Checking the field of vision

These are quick, simple and painless tests carried out by an optometrist as part of a basic eye examination. 

Workplace eye care
Any eye test should include a full examination of the health of the eye, which will assist in the detection of glaucoma, cataract, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and more. Employers may provide eye care as a pure employee benefit, but an examination of eye health will also take place during any eye test, including to meet with Display Screen Equipment (DSE) regulations and for driver eye care. 

Jim Lythgow, director of strategic alliances at Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, said: ‘Employers who provide DSE eye care, prescription safety eyewear or driver eye care are probably already providing the appropriate eye care to check for glaucoma. In this case, it is really a matter of communicating the full benefits of the provision, to ensure employees are aware of the much wider benefits of their eye care. In this way, not only do employees benefit from the level of care provided, but the employer benefits from the boost in morale and staff loyalty. For those companies not already providing eye care, implementing a policy should be considered as a matter of priority.’

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