SPECSAVERS Ireland, in collaboration with Fighting Blindness, are due to launch their annual Eye Health Report on October 13th to coincide with World Sight Day. This year’s report will focus on the growing prevalence of Glaucoma, challenges it poses to the eye care sector, and measures that can be taken to mitigate these barriers to treatment and diagnoses. The report will feature expert advice and findings from medical consultants as well as Ireland’s leading optometrists. There will be a particular focus on wait times associated with eye exams and proposals on what can be done to alleviate this issue.
Glaucoma is a common eye condition where the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain, becomes damaged. It’s usually caused by fluid building up in the front part of the eye, which increases the pressure inside. It is estimated 3% of people over 50 in Ireland have glaucoma. However, this number could be higher due to thousands of people not being referred for important checks during the height of the pandemic.
Figures within Specsavers’ The State of Ireland’s Eye Health 2021 report showed that more than 123,700 fewer eye examinations were provided (a 19% drop) during the early part of the pandemic (March-December 2020). In addition to this, there were more than 49,000 people on a waiting list for an eye hospital appointment or procedure in August 2021.
Kerril Hickey, Specsavers Ireland Chairman and optician, says: ‘The number of people living with glaucoma in Ireland is expected to rise by 33% in Ireland over the next 10 years. While it cannot be cured, it can be prevented from worsening through regular monitoring and treatment – but early detection is key.’
He adds, ‘Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in the world, but what makes it even more concerning is that it is often symptomless. While it cannot be reversed it can be successfully managed. Therefore, having an eye examination is so important as it can often detect any subtle changes before it is too late. The earlier glaucoma is diagnosed, the higher the chances are of retaining useful sight.’
The Eye Health Report will be available for public review on following the launch on www.specsavers.ie