PEOPLE are being encouraged to have regular eye examinations as part of World Glaucoma Week this week.

World Glaucoma Week (12 to 18 March), organised by the World Glaucoma Association and World Glaucoma Patient Association,  aims to eliminate glaucoma blindness by alerting people to have regular eye checks, including optic nerve checks.

The International Glaucoma Association (IGA) and Specsavers have joined forces to run a campaign to raise awareness of glaucoma during World Glaucoma Week.

Glaucoma – often described as the ‘silent thief of sight’ due to its gradual onset – causes damage to the optic nerve.

It affects 600,000 people in the UK and more than 64 million people worldwide making it the leading cause of irreversible blindness globally.

Research, carried out by City, University of London, shows that men are 16 per cent more likely than women to suffer advanced vision loss on diagnosis of the condition because they ignore warning signs and do not seek medical attention.

Karen Osborn, CEO of the IGA, said glaucoma was found in two per cent of the UK’s population aged over 40.

“Most of those people have a slow developing form of the condition and we estimate that half of all cases – that’s over 300,000 people – remain undiagnosed and are unaware that they could be losing their sight.”

She said regular eye examinations were vital before significant sight loss.

“Once sight is lost, it cannot be recovered.”

For more information on World Glaucoma Week, visit www.wgweek.net