Cork-born TV GP Pixie McKenna today urged people not to take their eyesight for granted and to visit their optician for a check-up, even if they don’t need glasses.
The Channel 4 series Embarrassing Bodies star said: “We rely on our eyes all the time, but it’s all too easy to take them for granted until our vision is impaired. Although sight is our most valuable sense, many people do not go to the optician for regular check-ups.
“Perhaps the fear of losing our sight drives the thought into the background – but eye problems are common and while many people may think that a visit to the optician is only for people who wear glasses, there are many things your optician needs to do be able. Many eye injuries go undetected. I suspect there are many treatable cases of glaucoma that could be caught early by an optometrist.”
She was speaking as a new report by Specsavers found that almost 40 per cent of the Irish population does not know what glaucoma is, despite it being the world’s leading cause of irreversible blindness.
The World Sight Day report revealed worrying misconceptions about glaucoma (a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve) – 48 per cent of respondents are not worried about it because they think it’s ‘rare’, while 40 per cent do mistakenly believing that it can be “cured”. .
There are over 246,773 people in Ireland who are blind or partially sighted. But alarmingly, nearly half (48 percent) of people still don’t know how often they should see their optometrist for a routine checkup.
According to The State of the Ireland’s Eye Health 2022 report, up to 75 percent of all vision loss is preventable.
The Specsavers report highlights the link between vision loss and an increased risk of loneliness, isolation and other health conditions such as clinical depression, diabetes, dementia and stroke.
The annual cost of vision loss and blindness before the pandemic was €2.67 billion.
Given the backlog of eye care services caused by the pandemic, this is likely to result in significant additional costs for people with vision-impairing conditions like glaucoma, and it is estimated that demand for glaucoma services will increase by 33 percent over the next decade.
Kerril Hickey, Chairman of Specsavers Ireland, said: “Glaucoma can be asymptomatic which is why only half of those affected are even aware they have the condition. While it cannot be easily cured or reversed, early treatment can be particularly effective in slowing or preventing vision loss, it is crucial that it is caught at the first possible opportunity. That’s why it’s important to educate the public about glaucoma and the importance of regular eye exams.”
“This report highlights examples of integrated care pathways that provide quality glaucoma care, but care remains fragmented, particularly in Ireland.
“We’re sitting on a ticking glaucoma time bomb, but there doesn’t seem to be a nationally agreed plan to address concerns. We need to draw on the expertise of the entire eye care sector and achieve national consensus to introduce new ways to improve glaucoma care to save sight.”
Anna Moran, interim CEO of Fighting Blindness, said: “We remain deeply concerned about the ongoing impact of the coronavirus on people with or through vision loss. During the pandemic, so many of us who are concerned with eye health have worked hard to get urgent help and support to those who have needed it. In the meantime, there is a return to personal discussions and consultations – however, there is a backlog that the specialist clinics are finding it difficult to work through.
“We are sincerely grateful to everyone in community optometry for providing patients with safe access to essential vision testing and health care – and for providing a lifeline for those in dire need of help. Glaucoma is a silent destroyer; irreparable damage can be done before symptoms become apparent to the patient.
“This report underscores the magnitude of the challenge we now face with glaucoma – and the continuing need for regular eye testing.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/dr-pixie-mckenna-urges-people-not-to-take-their-sight-for-granted-42064709.html dr Pixie McKenna urges people not to take their eyesight for granted