Hidden from view

Making a sight test part of your health routine

Eye test chart

Although not wishing to stereotype, at times we can be a nation that is all too ‘British’ in our actions – we queue for the bus to work, and even the lift when we get there; we apologise automatically; and, at times, we put off addressing those niggling issues.

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“I’ll go to the doctor if it’s still playing up next week,” I can hear myself telling my mum repeatedly.

However, during World Glaucoma Week (12–19 March), I am reminded that it's not always about the things you can see, feel and are aware of. It’s also about those under the surface conditions, that don't always cause an issue right away.

As practitioners, you will be all too aware that glaucoma often doesn’t present with symptoms in the beginning, and many people don't realise they have it because it develops slowly over many years. In fact, it’s often only picked up during a routine sight test – yet statistics tell us that around six million Brits have never had a sight test.

As an annual awareness initiative, World Glaucoma Week aims to highlight the importance of regular sight tests around the world, as well as educate the public about glaucoma.

Uninformed about the sight-threatening condition and its associated risk factors, such as family history, local football club chairman Mike Vines initially put his sight issues down to the need for a new prescription. Unfortunately, by the time he got around to attending the opticians, the condition had progressed and he now has to take daily eye drops for the rest of his life in a bid to keep the condition at bay.

Mr Vines is one of a least half at dozen similar case studies that I have read this week, demonstrating the importance of regular sight tests, as well as the need to increase the public’s knowledge of glaucoma. This can be done by educating patients about eye conditions when they are in practice, something that the AOP is supporting members with through the release of a range of patient leaflets on conditions, including glaucoma.

Committed to expanding on this offering, the AOP is interested to hear what patient leaflets you would like to see next. Share your ideas in the community forums.