I’ve been privileged to be part of several new glaucoma services, both as a clinician in my practices in Wales and as a facilitator and enabler as director of professional advancement for Specsavers. These have been in ophthalmology and optometry, though I think services are best when pathways are combined. The profession has progressed further than I imagined possible in the 20 years since I qualified. The role of an optometrist in the detection and management of this group of diseases has changed significantly and I believe there is huge unfulfilled potential for us to be part of the solution. Clinicians who have heard me speak over the years (thanks for not nodding off) will know I have a catchphrase when it comes to self-development: ‘Be selfish’ – what I mean by that will become clear later.
It is Glaucoma Awareness Week at the end of this month, an annual awareness-raising opportunity coordinated by the charity Glaucoma UK. Specsavers is taking part in the activities and supporting Glaucoma UK’s work to encourage people across the UK to talk about glaucoma and attend regular eye tests. In our 2021 Eye Health report (visit bit.ly/39dO0sh), we highlighted the 1.39 million people living with ocular hypertension and the further 708,000 living with glaucoma in the UK, which is likely to increase by 18% during the next 10 years. We can already see from our internal clinical outcome reporting that 12% of referrals are glaucoma-related. As our population ages and detection increases, our urgent duty is to save sight. We know that early detection followed by careful observation and regular treatment can usually minimise loss of vision. That’s why working together to tackle the backlog of patients is so important.
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