This is National Glaucoma Week, and opticians in Salford are raising awareness of glaucoma and dry eye syndrome, and the importance of applying regular eye drops.
Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of irreversible sight loss, thought to affect 700,000 people in the UK, with around fifty per cent of cases undiagnosed. For those who have glaucoma, up to sixty per cent are affected by dry eye syndrome, which comes about when tears evaporate quickly or too few are produced.
"Dry eye can be so debilitating for people with glaucoma" says Karen Osborn, chief executive of the International Glaucoma Association (IGA) "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" she adds "Also raise the issue with their glaucoma specialist as it may be that a change to preservative free drops will help."
One of the opticians supporting National Glaucoma Week is Specsavers in Swinton, which is 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.
The opticians is also providing instructions for the Muslim community on applying eye drops during Ramadan, when followers fast every day from before sunrise to after sunset.
"When an individual has a dry eye the surface of the eye becomes inflamed" says Amanda Pedder, store director at Specsavers Swinton "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" she adds.
For further information see the IGA's website www.glaucoma-association.com or phone its helpline on 01233 638170.