Thousands of people who may have the sight-threatening condition glaucoma without their knowledge were reminded of the importance of an eye test when the Vision Express ‘Vision Van’ visited five locations. The specially-equipped mobile clinic was on tour in support of World Glaucoma Week, March 6-12. An eye test is the best way to spot glaucoma, which has no obvious symptoms and is thought to go undiagnosed in more than half of cases. However when it’s spotted and treated in time, nine out of ten affected are left with useable sight for life.
The Vision Van visited Nottingham, Bristol, Truro, Reading and Birmingham over five days during World Glaucoma Week. Some people took the opportunity to book a free eye test on the Vision Van, while others took away vouchers entitling them to a free test in their local Vision Express store. Of those tested on board, 70 per cent needed a new prescription – further emphasising the importance of regular checks.
Omar Hassan, head of professional services at Vision Express said: “The large proportion of people visiting the Vision Van who either needed a new prescription or told us they hadn’t had an eye test for a long time, coupled with NHS figures showing a drop in eye test rates, is alarming. An eye test is not only the best way to spot vision problems and glaucoma, but it can also indicate potentially serious health conditions such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes and increased risk of stroke.”
New mum Kavita Pun, from Nottingham, visited the van for her first eye test in seven years, and was advised to see her GP for a further check-up after the Vision Express optometrist Imran Shah spotted a foreign body in one eye. Kavita, who visited with her husband Bikash and their three-week-old daughter Ritu, said: “An eye test is something I kept thinking about, but I either didn’t have the time or put off doing it. I’m really glad I came on today though. I had no idea that an eye test can tell so much about your general health, not just your eye sight, and I think a lot of people are probably unaware of that. I’ll be going to see my doctor as a result of what the optometrist told me – I think the Vision Van’s a great idea.”
In Reading, market worker Clive Smith was advised to visit his GP, after his test showed raised pressure in his eyes – a possible indicator of glaucoma. Clive said, “I can’t remember exactly when my last eye test was but it was a while ago. I’ve never heard of glaucoma before and I think the Vision Van is a really good way to tell people about it.”
Those particularly at risk include people with a family history of glaucoma, the over-40s and people with an African, Caribbean or Asian background.