Men are at greater risk of losing their sight than women because they ignore early warning signs and do not seek medical attention, according to a recent study.

Independent research focusing on the eye condition glaucoma, carried out by City, University of London, showed that men are 16% more likely than women to suffer advanced vision loss on diagnosis of the condition.

Silent thief of sight

Glaucoma – often described as the ‘silent thief of sight’ due to its gradual onset – causes damage to the optic nerve. It affects 600,000 in the UK and more than 64 million people worldwide making it the leading cause of irreversible blindness globally.

In order to raise awareness of the issue and encourage both men and women to have regular eye examinations, Specsavers has launched a health information campaign in partnership with the International Glaucoma Association (IGA). The £1m initiative coincides with World Glaucoma Week , which runs from March 12-18.

Karen Osborn, CEO of the IGA, said: ‘Glaucoma is found in 2% of the UK’s population aged over 40. Most of those people have a slow developing form of the condition and we estimate that half of all cases – that’s over 300,000 people – remain undiagnosed and are unaware that they are slowly losing their sight.

The importance of regular eye examinations

'Research shows more men than women are expected to be in this group because they simply do not seek medical treatment as readily as women.

‘The health awareness campaign that the IGA is working on with Specsavers will educate about the importance of regular eye examinations before it is too late to save your sight.’

RNIB (The Royal National Institute of Blind People) and Specsavers ‘State of the Nation’ report revealed that nearly 14 million people in the UK are not having their eyes tested every two years as recommended, leading to a huge burden on the economy due to easily preventable vision-related issues.

Intervention and management

Sally Harvey, Chief Executive of RNIB, said: ‘We welcome any initiative that encourages people to look after their eye health.

‘Regular eye tests and early detection on the high street, followed by timely intervention and management of eye health conditions, could help save your sight.'

By World Glaucoma Week, each Specsavers store aims to have at least one optometrist who has completed the WOPEC (Wales Optometry Postgraduate Education Centre) Level 1 glaucoma accreditation. This reinforces their skills in detecting glaucoma and monitoring the signs of its progression, with Level 2 set to be achieved by September.

Detecting and monitoring

Specsavers clinical spokesperson, Dr Nigel Best, says: ‘The only way to know if your eyes are healthy and your vision is accurate is to have your eyes checked by an optician at least once every two years.

‘By detecting and monitoring glaucoma on the high street, our optometrists can help to ensure people with glaucoma don’t get to the stage where the condition becomes sight-threatening.

This not only greatly enhances their quality of life, helping to reduce isolation, depression and maintain independence by reducing reliance on others, it also has positive economic impacts.'

To donate to the IGA, text TEST17 £5 TO 70700. To donate £3 to RNIB text DOTS to 70111

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