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“Through this project, we aim to raise awareness of the hereditary factor of glaucoma”

Joanne Creighton, chief executive of Glaucoma UK, gives OT  the lowdown on Glaucoma Awareness Week 2024

13-year-old Gethin and his father Wayne stand side-by-side smiling
Glaucoma UK

Can you tell us about the focus for this year’s Glaucoma Awareness Week (24–30 June)?

Glaucoma is an eye disease that, if untreated, can lead to sight loss. An early diagnosis is key to preserving vision. Anyone can get glaucoma, but some people are at higher risk, such as those with a family history of the condition. If someone in your family has glaucoma, you’re at least four times more likely to get it too. That’s why we are asking people to talk to their family about glaucoma to learn about their family eye health history.

As part of Glaucoma Awareness Week 2024, we are inviting people living with glaucoma, who also have a family member dealing with the same condition, to share their experiences and hopes for the future. These stories will also showcase the importance of having support from friends and family, early detection, and regular eye examinations.

What is the key aim for the campaign this year?

Through this project, we aim to raise awareness of the hereditary factor of glaucoma and the importance of attending routine eye tests. We want people to ask if anyone in their family has had glaucoma. This simple conversation could be the key to preserving not only their sight, but also their loved ones’ vision.

700,000

people are estimated to have glaucoma in the UK, but half are unaware they have it

How can optometrists and eye care professionals support Glaucoma Awareness Week 2024?

We’ve inviting eye care professionals to speak to their patients about how glaucoma runs in families. Knowing if a family member or relative has the disease could protect their sight. We are asking professionals to encourage patients to start a conversation with their family members about their family’s eye health, so they can understand their own personal risk and prioritise regular eye tests.

Taking a moment to ask glaucoma patients: ‘Have you informed your family members about your glaucoma diagnosis?’ and explaining the increased risk to them can significantly affect early detection and treatment for others.

What does the focus of this year’s campaign mean to you?

Understanding the risk of glaucoma within families and prioritising regular eye check-ups is crucial. We hope that people’s stories will inspire conversations within their own families to explore any history of glaucoma.

We urge professionals to join us to raise awareness by asking glaucoma patients if they have informed family members about their glaucoma diagnosis. This small step can ensure they understand the need to share their increased risk with loved ones and emphasise the importance of regular eye tests.

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