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IGA highlights challenges of summer travel for glaucoma patients

The IGA also visited Specsavers’ head office to discuss how to improve detection, treatment and care

Specsavers main office

The International Glaucoma Association (IGA) is highlighting how glaucoma patients can manage their eye drops while on holiday as part of Glaucoma Awareness Week (17–23 June).

Over 1000 community optometric practices and hospital eye clinics have been provided with materials to raise awareness and encourage practitioners to have conversations with patients.

The IGA highlighted that summer travel can be challenging for patients living with glaucoma who use eye drops.

It has produced a frequently asked questions (FAQs) answer sheet and a poster for practitioners to give to patients when discussing how to treat and manage glaucoma. The FAQs sheet provides advice for patients travelling with drops such as the requirement of supporting documentation in order to take eye drops in cabin luggage, which can be obtained from a relevant medical professional.

The IGA’s chair and chief executive visited Specsavers’ head office in Guernsey as part of Glaucoma Awareness Week to discuss opportunities to improve detection, treatment and care for patients living with glaucoma.

IGA chair and consultant ophthalmologist, Professor Philip Bloom, and chief executive Karen Osborn, met with the founders of the multiple, Doug and Dame Mary Perkins, as well as senior clinicians.

The visit included a tour of a mock practice, which has diagnostic equipment and a focus on investing in training for optometrists and supporting practice staff.

Speaking about the visit, Ms Osborn said: “We have been working in partnership with Specsavers for more than two years now to raise awareness of glaucoma and encourage more people to have regular eye health checks to catch it in time.”

“There is a clear and urgent need to do this, with glaucoma the largest cause of preventable sight loss in the UK and the number of people affected by glaucoma-related sight loss, which currently stands at 700,000, on the increase,” she explained.

Mr Perkins added: “Tackling glaucoma is a key focus for us at Specsavers and we are looking forward to making a positive difference, including through our much-valued partnership with the IGA.”

Campaign awareness

Specsavers is also investing in a multi-million pound marketing campaign called Don’t lose the picture to raise awareness of the eye disease, which is running in support of Glaucoma Awareness Week and beyond.

The campaign extends its Don’t lose the picture campaign from 2018 with advertising that partially displays an image to highlight how glaucoma can lead to sight loss.

Director of professional advancement at Specsavers, Paul Morris, said: “This is a stylised depiction of glaucoma rather than an attempt to replicate the direct patient experience, using much the same approach as the successful anti-smoking campaign by the British Heart Foundation in 2004 which used cigarettes oozing fat to make a clear visual connection between smoking and heart disease.”

“We think this is a great way to get people thinking and talking about glaucoma and to understand the difference that primary care optometry can make,” he added.

Pictured (left to right) is Professor Philip Bloom, Karen Osborn, Doug Perkins and Dame Mary Perkins outside Specsavers main office in La Villiaze, Guernsey.