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Specsavers supports National Glaucoma Week

Specsavers in Manchester Fort Shopping Park are raising awareness of dry eye syndrome

This National Glaucoma Week (4th-10th June), the Specsavers team in Manchester Fort is raising awareness of dry eye syndrome and how it can impact those with glaucoma.

The syndrome, which affects 50 to 60 per cent of people with glaucoma, comes about when tears evaporate quickly or too few are produced.

Often symptomless in its early stages, glaucoma is one of the leading causes of irreversible sight loss. It is thought to affect 700,000 people in the UK today, but as many as 50% of cases are undiagnosed[2]. Once diagnosed, it is often treated with eye drops.

Specsavers in Manchester Fort is supporting the International Glaucoma Association’s National Glaucoma Week to raise awareness of glaucoma and dry eye syndrome and the importance of applying regular eye drops.

Specsavers’ support comes during Ramadan, when followers fast every day from before sunrise to after sunset. This has left doubt among some of the Muslim population over when they can administer their eye drops.

Peter Dodd, store director at Specsavers Manchester Fort, says: ‘When an individual has a dry eye the surface of the eye becomes inflamed. This inflammation further damages the cells which are responsible for tear production, resulting in a vicious circle of increasing inflammation and dryness.

‘We support the IGA and Muslim Council of Britain’s campaign to reassure the Muslim community that drops can be taken before dawn and after sunset, the same times as when food and drink can be consumed.’

Karen Osborn, chief executive of IGA, says: ‘Dry eye can be so debilitating for people with glaucoma. People talk of pain, discomfort and depression. Eyes can sting or feel like they are burning with people saying it is like they have grit in the eye. People have can have difficulty reading, working on a computer and driving.

‘There are ways that people can help themselves by drinking lots of water, getting enough sleep, wearing sunglasses on windy days, and if dry eye is really aggravating seek the advice of their optometrist, pharmacist or GP. Also raise the issue with their glaucoma specialist as it may be that a change to preservative free drops will help.

In conjunction with the International Glaucoma Association, Specsavers has developed training for its retail teams to assist people with their treatment. Specifically, they will be advising on how effective drop management is crucial to manage glaucoma and how correct instillation of drops on a regular basis can help with the discomfort of dry eyes.

Peter Dodd continues; ‘Our team here at Manchester Fort has undertaken the training and have already been putting it to good use. We want all of our customers to feel at home and in the best hands when they visit and so it’s important we’re equipped with the skills to help.’

This new training complements the skills held by Specsavers’ optometrists, who have collectively completed almost 5,000 postgraduate glaucoma accreditations since 2017, through a variety of accrediting bodies including Cardiff University and the College of Optometrists.

The IGA has lots of information on its website about administering eye drops during Ramadan and information about glaucoma and dry eye, www.glaucoma-association.com. The IGA helpline is available to anyone five days a week, 01233 63 81 70.