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International Glaucoma Association launches eye-drop campaign

The International Glaucoma Association (IGA) has launched an awareness drive to coincide with the UK's National Eye Health Week.
Dr Keith Barton, IGA chair
Dr Keith Barton, IGA chair

A study in the UK found 57% of glaucoma patients had difficulties administering eye drops, with reasons for not taking eye drops correctly including: forgetting when doses are due (38%), difficulty with the dropper bottle (18%), difficulty getting drops in the eye (11%), and not having medication to hand (10%).

According to the IGA, there are an estimated 600,000 people with diagnosed glaucoma in the UK today.

In Australia, more than 300,000 people have diagnosed glaucoma, with about half undiagnosed. One in eight Australians over 80 will develop glaucoma, and first-degree relatives of glaucoma patients have a 10-fold increased risk of developing the disease.

As part of the IGA's 'It's Black or White, Save your Sight. Use your Eye Drops.' awareness campaign, IGA chair and consultant ophthalmologist Dr Keith Barton warned that correct and regular instillation of eye drops was essential for controlling glaucoma.

An IGA statement noted that up to 40% of sight could be permanently lost before side effects were noticed by the individual if glaucoma was left untreated.

"Fortunately glaucoma is the most common cause of preventable blindness and for the majority of glaucoma patients, daily eye drops are a simple solution to control their condition and save their sight," the statement read.

However, IGA chief executive Ms Karen Osborn said many glaucoma patients were not informed that eye drops were a life-long treatment, nor were they told how to administer their drops correctly.

"[Our] campaign aims to educate glaucoma patients nationwide about the importance of administering their eye drops correctly, and our new poster for hospitals, GPs' surgeries and pharmacies gives a step-by-step guide to taking eye drops," she said.

Dr Barton stated, "Most people diagnosed with glaucoma will be able to manage their own treatment by taking eye drops. Used regularly they help to keep the eye pressure to an appropriate level, reducing the risk of visual loss."

However, he advised glaucoma patients experiencing difficulty to seek assistance from an ophthalmologist.

The UK's National Eye Health Week takes place from 19-25 September this year.


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