Leading effective cross-sector initiatives for people with sight loss
Eye Health Mercy Jeyasingham, CEO, VISION 2020 UK, the umbrella body for the eye health and sight loss sector, outlines some of the challenges for the sector.
The World Health Organization and International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness set the task of eliminating avoidable blindness by the year 2020, the ambitious global initiative from which VISION 2020 UK derives its name. Despite this elusive goal, we have seen progress made through prevention and early intervention, as well as supported access to timely treatment and self- management.
This 'Vision and Eye Health 2017 campaign' features glaucoma and in particular; why early diagnosis and treatment is critical; serious eye conditions and surgical solutions; living with glaucoma; driving and lenses.
Glaucoma describes a group of conditions that is the leading cause of sight loss globally. It is a priority area for the member organisations and Standing Committees of VISION 2020 UK. Many people are unaware that this symptomless condition can lead to permanent sight loss. Raising awareness is therefore crucial.
We have seen progress made through prevention and early intervention
It is presumed by many that an appointment with an optometrist is unnecessary until something goes wrong, but regular eye tests will check the pressure of the eyes and examine the optic nerve– important in the detection of glaucoma. Individuals with a family history of glaucoma are entitled to a free eye examination. People of African descent are also more likely to develop glaucoma and at an earlier age. Eye tests are therefore important not just for when you think you need glasses but also to pick up early signs of things potentially going wrong with your eyes.
We are at a time when the demand on hospitals is rising. There are 7 million outpatients appointments a year for eyes (representing 10% of all appointments), an increase of 30% over the last 5 years. It is therefore important for people to understand their eyes more and know how to treat irritating but non urgent conditions. I hope this issue helps to support and give advice to people in understanding their eyes and knowing when to seek professional advice.