This was the key message that was delivered at the first meeting of the glaucoma support group at Worthing Hospital last Friday.
Set up by senior staff nurses at the hospital’s eye clinic, Annette Brampton and Julie State, the first meeting of the group for sufferers of the common eye condition attracted almost 50 people who came along to find out more about managing it.
Annette said: “We thought we might only have a few people come along, so this is a great turn-out.
“The idea behind the group is that because the clinics are so busy, the doctors don’t always have as much time as they would like to spend with people and answer their questions.
“People can go away not fully understanding their glaucoma diagnosis, so at the group we can answer any questions they have and talk about how to manage it.”
Glaucoma is a relatively-common eye condition, particularly affecting people over 40. It is one of the leading causes of preventable blindness in the UK, but if managed effectively it is unlikely sufferers will lose their sight.
Dr Frederica Makuloluwe, an associate specialist and the hospital’s glaucoma lead, said that, simply speaking, glaucoma was irreversible and caused by damage to nerves caused pressure in the eye. But, with treatment, blindness could be prevented. In total, she said, 34 per cent of the outpatients seen at the eye clinic had glaucoma.
She said: “Glaucoma is usually picked up by an optician, who then refers a patient to their GP and then they get referred to us.
“I will see most of these patients, or another specialist will, and we will follow NICE (National Institute of Clinical Excellence) guidelines to confirm the diagnosis.
“If they have glaucoma, we will start them off on treatment, but if it’s found they don’t, we will refer them back to their GP so they can keep an eye on the patient.
“We will see patients with glaucoma regularly, and they will go to the monitoring clinics for life, but if they follow the treatment properly, it is very unlikely they will go blind.”
The next meeting of the glaucoma support group will be in October, although an exact date is yet to be set. To find out more, call Annette or Julie at the eye clinic on 01903 205111 ext 5658.