To coincide with World Glaucoma Week, 11 – 17 March, Specsavers and National Council for the Blind of Ireland (NCBI) are highlighting the importance of regular eye tests in helping to reduce preventable sight loss.

Research

Almost all (91%) adults living in Ireland would rank sight as the sense they would least like to lose, yet shockingly only 49% prioritise their eye health by getting their eyes tested every two years, according to research recently commissioned by Specsavers.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma – an eye condition that causes permanent and irreversible damage to the optic nerve, which transmits images to the brain – is one of the leading causes of preventable blindness in Ireland. Glaucoma is one of many conditions that can be picked up by opticians and successfully treated if detected early.

Symptoms

While generally symptomless during its early stages, it slowly destroys eyesight through raised pressure within the eyeball. The increase in pressure is caused when the fluid, called aqueous humour, is unable to drain away properly or too much is produced. Most people affected experience no discomfort, which means that significant and lasting damage can occur before they notice any difference. 

Raising awareness

Kerril Hickey, Specsavers Ireland Chairperson said: ‘Because glaucoma is a painless disease and does not cause symptoms until it is quite advanced, early detection through regular and thorough eye examinations is the key to protecting your eyes. Left undetected, glaucoma can cause blindness. However, it is readily treatable and the condition can be controlled if diagnosed early.’

‘With the recent changes to PRSI optical benefits, available to both employed and self-employed workers, there is no reason why all adults should not prioritise their eye health for their future. Under the new PRSI treatment benefit, anyone who has been employed or self-employed in Ireland for two years, is now entitled to a free eye test as well as a free pair of glasses or contribution to a pair of glasses at Specsavers. It is particularly important for at-risk groups, those over 40 or anyone with a family history of glaucoma, to have their eyes checked regularly.’

Supporting NCBI

Chris White, CEO of NCBI says: ‘There are currently 54,000 people living with blindness and vision impairment in Ireland. Early detection is vital in the fight against preventable sight loss. Regular eye exams are a vital health check, as your optometrist may be able to see changes in your eye before you’ve noticed a change in your vision, when steps can be taken to try to prevent or halt any damage.’

Highest quality optical care

Specsavers is committed to providing the highest quality of optical care and there has been significant investment in the latest optical technology, including digital retinal photography, which can detect symptoms of a variety of health problems such as diabetes, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration.

Specsavers stores nationwide also provide Digital Precision Eyecare, a cutting-edge way of selecting and fitting customers’ glasses using imaging software on tablet devices.

• The nationally representative survey was conducted in April 2017 by Empathy Research through an online omnibus survey. A sample size of 1,013 was achieved with quotas set on gender, age, social class and region to achieve a sample aligned with national population

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