HEALTH chiefs have urged Wigan folk to have their eyes tested more often to increase earlier detection of a debilitating eye condition.
More than 15,000 patients in the borough have been assessed for glaucoma by The Wrightington Wigan and Leigh (WWL) Eye Unit in the last decade.
And figures show around 7,500 people are currently attending clinics for it at the Healthcare Centre, Boston House, Wigan and Leigh Infirmary.
But the most recent uptake of local NHS sight tests is seven per cent below the regional average.
So as part of National Glaucoma Awareness Week, which runs until Friday, hospital bosses want more people to have their eyes tested.
Yuen Lambert, Ophthalmology Manager at the WWL Eye Unit, said: “People often don’t realise their sight is being damaged because the first part of the eye to be affected is the outer field of vision, their peripheral vision.
“It is important for those with a family history of glaucoma or for people over 40 to have a regular eye health check up with an optometrist, as this could ultimately save their sight.”
National Glaucoma Awareness Week highlights the importance of regular eye checks and early detection, as glaucoma is one of the leading causes of avoidable blindness. The condition affects up to two in 100 people over the age of 40.
Glaucoma, which involves an increased pressure in the eyeball causing gradual sight loss, develops very slowly and most patients will be unaware they are affected until it is quite advanced.
Mr Simon Mars, consultant ophthalmic surgeon at WWL, added: “All patients over 40 should see their optometrist who can then refer on to us if necessary.
“We have a specific clinic to assess and diagnose glaucoma in a single visit.”
The team will be holding a strawberry, cake and tea event Monday July 6 at Boston House to raise awareness of macular conditions.
And members of the WWL Eye Unit will also be at the Wigan Life Centre on Wednesday, July 8 from 10am until 3pm for a Low Vision Awareness Day, promoting services available for visually impaired people.
The International Glaucoma Association (IGA) has launched an appeal throughout the awareness week to urge people to ensure they have regular eye check-ups.
This comes after it was found millions of drivers over the age of 45 could be risking losing their driving licence and potentially their vision, by not taking an eye test every one to two years.