20 September 2012 Return to news listings
A key component in the battle to beat glaucoma is to find a way to encourage more people to visit their optometrist, a leading optometrist told a regional meeting of the College of Optometrists.
Professor David Henson, professor of Ophthalmology and Vision Science at the University of Manchester, said that already more than 90 per cent of glaucoma referrals came from optometrists.
However, there are still many undetected glaucoma cases in the population. Latest research suggests that between 10 and 39 per cent of patients with glaucoma present themselves to eye specialists when the disease is already at an advanced stage in at least one eye.
“Those most at risk include the socially disadvantaged with no family history of glaucoma, those with high intraocular pressure and those who do not attend an optometrist regularly,” Professor Henson told College members at their regional event in Wrexham, Wales. “We need to get more people to visit their optometrist and breakdown the barriers that some people have towards having their eyes tested. We need to promote routine eye care and support screening programmes.”
Professor Henson’s call coincides with Look for the Letters, a campaign the College of Optometrists is launching to highlight the important role of optometrists, while commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Snellen chart. He also suggested ways that optometrists could improve the detection of glaucoma, but said the disease was always going to be a difficult one to diagnose in its early stages.
Attendees also heard from psychologist Dr David Crundall, who is leading research into the causes of traffic accidents. Dr Crundall urged optometrists to alert patients to the latest developments in hazard perception on Britain’s roads.
He told the meeting on 13 September that evidence is mixed on whether sight problems are linked to the hundreds of thousands of road accidents each year, but studies have shown that 90 per cent of crashes are due to human error, particularly through lack of perception.
Dr Crundall, from Nottingham University, presented the very latest research obtained by studying drivers’ eye movements whilst driving. They showed that knowing how to anticipate potential hazards – and in particular, specific types of hazard – were increasingly important in preventing some accidents. A new website, www.lifelongdriving.org enables drivers to take their own hazard perception tests.
The meeting also heard an update about the work and projects the College of Optometrists is currently involved in from its Director of Education, Jacqueline Martin. The event in Wrexham was one of 12 regional events the College is hosting for optometrists across the country. The events, which are free to College members, are designed to provide optometrists with high-quality learning opportunities and the chance to hear about latest developments, as well as networking with fellow professionals. The next event will take place in Belfast on 27 September.
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