A Bexhill woman is urging people with a family history of glaucoma to get their eyes tested and save their sight.
For this year’s National Glaucoma Awareness Week (June 6-12), the International Glaucoma Association (IGA) is focusing on the need for close relatives of a known glaucoma patient to have regular eye checks to prevent possible sight loss.
Parents, children, brothers or sisters are up to four times more likely to develop glaucoma, when compared to people without a family history of glaucoma.
It is estimated that there are 600,000 people with glaucoma in the UK today, but half are undiagnosed.
It is the most common cause of preventable blindness, yet many people are unaware that glaucoma has no symptoms in the early stages.
But, if left untreated, glaucoma can lead to serious loss of vision, with up to 40 per cent of sight being permanently lost before the effects are noticed by the individual. Once sight is lost it cannot be recovered.
Bexhill resident Yolanda Laybourne, trustee for the International Glaucoma Association, said: “My father lost his sight to glaucoma, so I have always been aware of the importance of regular eye health checks and the increased risk through a close family member having the condition.
“I have had eye health checks throughout my life, and make sure that both of my children look after their eyes too.
“It was knowledge of glaucoma which led me to volunteering as a trustee for the International Glaucoma Association.
“I am passionate about raising awareness of the condition and the need for early detection.
“The IGA works with hospitals and optometrists across the country, and I know from our work that the earlier treatment starts, the more likely it is that people will retain useful sight for the rest of their lives.”
Russell Young CEO of the IGA said: “We regularly hear from people who have irretrievably lost their sight to glaucoma, as they haven’t had regular eye health checks. People are often angry and upset, to know that a quick and regular visit to their high street optometrist would have detected the condition.”
Eye checks are free in England for those aged over 40 with a family history of glaucoma.
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