A range of activities have been organised, including free early-detection tests that will be carried out this week at IMO. Eye examinations will also be offered on Wednesday 14th, from 9:45 am to 6.00 pm, at the Catalonian Parliament, which also wanted to get involved in the initiative by inviting a team of glaucoma specialists and optometrists to come and provide check-ups for MPs, staff and the media. The examinations will include a visual acuity test, an eye pressure test and an optic nerve examination.
With this initiative, the medical, scientific and political communities have joined forces to highlight the importance of preventing a disease that still has no cure and can cause blindness, if not detected and treated in its early stages. The campaign also emphasises the fact that many people who have glaucoma, about half of the affected population, are unaware of it. This is because peripheral vision is lost slowly and gradually, and patients often remain unaware until around 80% of their visual field has been affected.
Ophthalmologists are calling for cooperation with other groups that are in a position to detect the first warning signs, such as opticians, for whom a talk has been arranged under the title: "Objective: to diagnose 50% of all patients who have glaucoma, but are unaware of it." In addition, IMO Foundation and the Official Association of Catalonian Opticians and Optometrists have signed, for a second consecutive year, an agreement to distribute information about the disease to all Catalonian opticians. As well as basic information about glaucoma, IMO Foundation has also distributed a badge to be worn on the lapel, whose circular design represents the loss of peripheral vision caused by glaucoma.
This small green circle, a sign of hope for a future cure for the disease, will also be available to MPs in the Spanish Parliament in Madrid, which last year passed a non-legislative motion to fight glaucoma, a disease which the unanimously agreed document referred to as "the silent thief of vision."
The campaign also includes a talk that has been organised for the general public under the title "Understanding glaucoma", which will take place on Thursday 15th at 7:30 pm at IMO (Josep Maria Lladó, 3, Exit 7 of the Ronda de Dalt, Barcelona).
Glaucoma is a disease that causes progressive damage to the optic nerve, the part of the eye that sends images to the brain. As a result, the visual field gradually decreases, and it can even cause blindness, if not treated early. Currently, glaucoma, which affects one million people in Spain, is the second leading cause of preventable blindness in the world, in which almost 60 million people suffer from the disease.
Current treatments – drugs, laser or different types of surgery (trabeculectomy, non-penetrating deep sclerectomy or valves) – make it possible to reduce eye pressure and slow down its progression, but lost vision cannot be recovered. It is, therefore, important to diagnose the disease in its early stages, which can be done by simple and painless eye check-ups. IMO Foundation recommends that everybody should have an eye examination every two years from the age of 40 and annually in high-risk cases: people with a direct family history of glaucoma, high myopia or other serious vision problems, the over 60s and people of black or Asian heritage.
IMO Foundation and World Glaucoma Week
IMO Foundation was founded by a group of ophthalmologists and researchers from the Instituto de Microcirugía Ocular in Barcelona with the aim of developing research, teaching and eye disease prevention projects. Prevention and research into new and effective therapies are the two main cornerstones in the fight against glaucoma, a disease that is still incurable today, but for which treatments have been developed to slow down vision loss, if diagnosed and treated early. IMO Foundation supports World Glaucoma Week, a joint initiative by the World Glaucoma Association (http://www.worldglaucoma.org/) and the World Glaucoma Patient Association (http://www.worldgpa.org/), which promotes information and awareness-raising initiatives around the world to highlight the need to prevent the disease.