More than 1,000 Welwyn Hatfield residents are at risk of going blind due to glaucoma

PUBLISHED: 14:15 21 June 2019 | UPDATED: 14:15 21 June 2019

This is what people with glaucoma see. Picture: Specsavers.

This is what people with glaucoma see. Picture: Specsavers.

Archant

More than 1,000 residents of Welwyn Hatfield are in danger of going blind due to glaucoma, according to Specsavers.

This is what people with glaucoma see. Picture: Specsavers.This is what people with glaucoma see. Picture: Specsavers.

Specsavers stores in the Welwyn Hatfield area are raising awareness of this issue during Glaucoma Awareness Week - running until June 23.

Glaucoma - one of the world's leading causes of blindness - usually occurs when fluid inside the eye does not drain properly, creating pressure build-up.

This can result in optic nerve and nerve fibres from the retina being damaged.

If the condition is not treated early then it becomes more difficult to manage but it cannot be cured.

Thomas Armstrong, optician at Specsavers in Welwyn Garden City, says there are several risk factors including a family history of the disease.

"Other risk factors would include those who have black-African or Asian heritage as well as those who have higher levels of short sightedness," Mr Armstrong said.

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"Of course, age also needs to be considered as two in every 100 people over the age of 40 are affected with the condition."

He added that in most cases people do not realise something is wrong with their sight.

"With the most common form of glaucoma, visual loss is initially very subtle, affecting mainly the peripheral vision rather than central, which can make it harder to notice.

"Most people are not even aware there is any visual loss because of the way the eyes' visual fields overlap to compensate for one another."

"Some forms of glaucoma are more rapid with a sudden painful build-up of pressure in the eye which produces blurred vision and haloes around lights, but they are less common."

Karen Osborn, chief executive of the International Glaucoma Association (IGA), said they regularly hear from people who have gone blind due to glaucoma because of late diagnosis.

"People are often angry and upset to learn that simple regular visits to their local high street optometrist could have detected the condition. The earlier treatment starts, the more likely that someone will retain useful sight for life, so it's great that so many Specsavers stores are on board with Awareness Week."

Specsavers recommends a sight test every two years.

"It could, quite literally, save your sight," Mr Armstrong said.

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