The NHS in Gloucestershire is urging people who have a family history of glaucoma to look after their eyesight and have regular eye tests to ensure they retain their sight for years to come.

Glaucoma can affect anyone, although it becomes increasingly common as we grow older. People with a family history of glaucoma are five times more likely to get the condition, and people who have diabetes, are very short sighted or are of African Caribbean origin, are also at higher risk.

Dr Graham Mennie, Clinical Lead for Eye Health at NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said:

“Having regular eye health checks is really important. Glaucoma often has no symptoms in its early stages, and it’s only when the condition is fairly advanced that people recognise there is something wrong with their vision. Unfortunately, once vision is lost, it cannot be recovered.

Professor Andrew McNaught, Consultant Ophthalmologist at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, added:

“Early detection and treatment of glaucoma and other eye conditions literally saves sight – a simple eye health check is all that’s needed to identify any problems. Over 90% of individuals who are diagnosed early will retain useful sight for life and be safe to drive for many years.

A simple optic nerve check, which is part of a full eye test, is the best way to diagnose glaucoma. Treatment for glaucoma is generally simple, and most commonly includes taking eye drops. With appropriate treatment, most people can expect to halt or slow progressive vision loss, which may otherwise lead to blindness.

To raise awareness of the condition, particularly amongst people of Afro-Caribbean origin, Dr Mennie and Professor McNaught will be hosting a special event in Gloucester at the Black Elders Day Centre on 7 April. Attendees will have an opportunity to pick up useful information about retaining good eye health and a patient will offer an insight into what it’s like living with glaucoma and the experiences he had in receiving a diagnosis. There will also be an opportunity to be screened for glaucoma.

For more information about glaucoma, visit .