Newry.ie

This week is World Glaucoma Week and optometry director Alison Dunne from Specsavers in Newry is shining a light on glaucoma and emphasizing the importance of regular eye tests, as early detection is vital to prevent sight loss. To further develop her professional expertise Alison has also completed the Professional Certificate in Glaucoma through Ulster University and the College of Optometrists.

Specsavers Optometry director, Alison Dunne
Specsavers Optometry director, Alison Dunne

Figures from the International Glaucoma Association indicate that by 2020, 76 million people globally will have glaucoma. The worldwide week aims to raise awareness of the condition, often described as the ‘silent thief of sight’ due to its gradual onset and the fact that glaucoma often shows no symptoms in the early stage. Therefore, only an eye health professional can test for it and detect glaucoma.

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma gradually destroys eyesight through raised pressure within the eyeball.  Because there are no obvious symptoms of early glaucoma significant damage can occur before the sufferer is even aware of it.

It’s caused by drainage tubes in the eye becoming blocked, preventing fluid from draining properly and this causes pressure in the eye to build up. This can damage the optic nerve which connects the eye to the brain and the nerve fibres from the retina. Some types of glaucoma can be inherited, and close relatives of a glaucoma sufferer are more likely to develop the condition.

Get your eyes checked regularly

Early diagnosis is important because any damage to the eyes cannot be reversed. However, glaucoma is easily detectable during a routine eye check-up and it can be effectively treated with eye drops. Treatment aims to control the condition and minimise any future damage.

Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of irreversible sight loss.  It is thought to affect 700,000 people in the UK today, but as many as 50% of cases are undiagnosed[1].

Additional training

In conjunction with the International Glaucoma Association, Specsavers has developed training for its retail teams to assist sufferers with their treatment.  Specifically, Specsavers will be advising on how to effectively administer eye drops, which are crucial for managing the condition. One staff member at the Newry store has already completed the training. Optometrist Alison Dunne said, ’We are proud to be involved in supporting the International Glaucoma Association and being able to better support our customers with the condition is a really positive development for our store.’

‘Our store is a big part of the community and it is really important to us that we can provide the very best service to our customers and support someone with the condition in the most effective way.’

This new training complements the skills held by Specsavers’ optometrists, who have collectively completed almost 5,000 postgraduate glaucoma accreditations since 2017 through a variety of accrediting bodies including Ulster University, Cardiff University and the College of Optometrists.

Eye tests

Eye tests at Specsavers include a glaucoma test and are free for over 40s who have a close blood relative with glaucoma. Over-60s also receive free eye tests.

For more information on looking after your eye health contact Specsavers Newry 028 3025 0011

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