WALTON OAKS, England, October 9 /PRNewswire/ --

WALTON OAKS, England, October 9 /PRNewswire/ --

- Glaucoma Leading Cause of Preventable Blindness in the UK(1) Though Awareness of Symptoms and Risk Factors Remains Low

Today on World Sight Day leading experts aim to raise awareness of the eye disease glaucoma. It is estimated that there are currently up to 500,000 people in England and Wales who are at risk of losing their sight due to undiagnosed glaucoma(2) despite the condition being the leading cause of preventable blindness in the UK(1).

Glaucoma is the name for a group of eye diseases that cause damage to the optic nerve. In most cases, this damage is caused by increased pressure inside the eye(3). Whereas most people are aware of the importance of checking their blood pressure, awareness around the importance of eye pressure is low(4).

A survey supported by Pfizer Ltd. reveals that UK adults are more likely to visit their GP and dentist than they are their optician, with less than half of Brits having had their eyes tested during the last five to ten years, and 1 in 5 would only visit an optician when a problem is obvious(5). Further research also suggests that despite this apathy nearly twice as many Britons feared going blind more than having a heart attack or dying prematurely(4).

"In all the developed world only half of those with glaucoma are diagnosed and receiving therapies. This need not be the case - everyone has access to eye health professionals. Let's make this country the first to prevent unnecessary blindness and disability from glaucoma," Mr Ian Murdoch, Consultant Ophthalmologist, Moorfields Eye Hospital.

TV personality Gloria Hunniford, who has lent her support to the Windows to Health campaign which aims to raise awareness of glaucoma and having regular eye tests, says: "It is estimated that 95% of what we learn about the world around us comes through vision and hearing, which makes blindness and particularly preventable blindness a devastating human condition(6). Having had eye problems myself in the past and with an aunt who actually suffers from glaucoma, I am keen to urge all people to book themselves an eye test and gain peace of mind because with regular screening, glaucoma can be easily detected and treated."

Anyone can develop glaucoma and so everyone should have regular eye examinations to test for it. However, some people are at a higher risk of developing glaucoma than others. You are considered to be at higher risk if you are short sighted; aged over 40; of African-Caribbean origin, if you have diabetes or if you have a family member with glaucoma.(7) If you fall into one of these groups, you should have more frequent examinations and you may even be eligible for free eye tests.

Interestingly, the Pfizer Ltd survey revealed that approximately 1/3 of respondents did not know the symptoms of glaucoma. Furthermore, 20% of Britons were not sure if they were even eligible for a free eye test(5).

The Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) advises that everyone should be encouraged to have their eyes tested at least once every 2 years or more often if advised to by a professional(8).

Notes to Editors:

About Pfizer

Pfizer Inc, the world's largest research-based pharmaceutical company, discovers, develops, manufactures and markets prescription medicines in 11 therapeutic areas including oncology, cardiovascular, pain, neuroscience and infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS. Pfizer is also the world's largest animal health company.

Pfizer Inc employs approximately 85,000 colleagues worldwide, all working together for a healthier world. Pfizer conducts more biomedical research than any other organisation, and has 12,000 professionals working in four major R&D sites worldwide, including Sandwich in Kent. Pfizer's annual UK R&D investment is more than GBP550 million - more than GBP10 million a week.

In the UK, Pfizer has its European R&D headquarters at Sandwich and its UK business headquarters in Surrey, and is the major supplier of medicines to the NHS.

About World Sight Day

World Sight Day (WSD) is an annual day of awareness held on the second Thursday of October, to focus global attention on blindness and vision impairment. WSD is co-ordinated by IAPB under the VISION 2020 Global Initiative. The theme and certain core materials are generated by IAPB. All events are organised independently by members and supporters. On World Sight Day, VISION 2020 members work together to: raise public awareness of blindness & vision impairment as major international public health issues; influence Governments/Ministers of Health to participate in and designate funds for national blindness prevention programmes; educate target audiences about blindness prevention, about VISION 2020 and its activities, and to generate support for VISION 2020 programme activities.

About Windows to Health

The 'Windows to Health' campaign is a Pfizer Ltd UK initiative designed to raise awareness of the importance of having regular eye tests, not only to identify eye conditions such as glaucoma, but also as a method of identifying other health problems, for instance diabetes and high blood pressure.

About the Survey

The research for Pfizer was carried out online by Tickbox.net/Opinion. Matters between 22/08/2008 and 27/08/2008 amongst a nationally representative sample of 2297 UK adults aged 16+. Tickbox.net adhere to and follow the codes of the MRS (Market Research Society) and are fully registered and compliant with the Data Protection Registrar.

All Eyes on Glaucoma

The All Eyes on Glaucoma survey was sponsored by Pfizer Ophthalmics with support from the World Glaucoma Association and the World Glaucoma Patient Association. The survey was conducted among 4531 individuals over the age of 40 in seven countries: Australia, Brazil, Germany, Japan, Spain, UK and the United States. Telephone interviews were conducted from June to July 2007.

About the International Glaucoma Association(9)

The International Glaucoma Association is the charity for people with glaucoma, with the mission to raise awareness of glaucoma, promote research related to early diagnosis and treatment and to provide support to patients and all those who care for them.

Our vision is to ensure that all people with or at risk of glaucoma have the knowledge and access to care that will enable them to maintain a good quality of life.

About the Eye Health Alliance(10)

The Eye Health Alliance brings together the professional and representative optical bodies and eye care charities to campaign for better eye health for all.

The Alliance was formed in 2006 to tackle the rising levels of avoidable blindness in the UK. Members of the Alliance represent patients, eye health professionals and equipment manufacturers who work together to promote the health benefits of good eye care to ensure all patients have access to high quality services.


(1) Royal National Institute for the Blind Http://www.rnib.org.uk/xpedio/groups/public/documents/PublicWebsite/publ... - accessed 3 September 2008

(2) International Glaucoma Association http://www.glaucoma-association.com/nqcontent.cfm?a_id=1560&=fromcfc&tt=... accessed 18 September 2008

(3) International Glaucoma Association: http://www.glaucoma-association.com/nqcontent.cfm?a_id=1575&=fromcfc&tt=... , accessed 17 September 2008

(4) All Eyes on Glaucoma Survey, July 2007

(5) Tickbox.net/Opinion Matters between 22.8.08 and 27.8.08 amongst nationally representative sample of 2297 UK adults aged 16+

(6) Sense, 2001 http://www.sense.org.uk/publicationslibrary/allpubs/communication/C01.htm accessed 31 July 2008

(7) International Glaucoma Association: http://www.glaucoma-association.com/nqcontent.cfm?a_id=1602&=fromcfc&tt=... , accessed 31 July 2008

(8)Royal National Institute for the Blind: http://www.rnib.org.uk/xpedio/groups/public/documents/PublicWebsite/publ... , accessed 31 July 2008

(9) International Glaucoma Association http://www.glaucoma-association.com/nqcontent.cfm?a_id=1544&=fromcfc&tt=... , accessed 1 October 2008

(10) Eye Health Alliance, http://www.eyehealthalliance.co.uk/about/, accessed 1 October 2008

(Due to the lengths of some of the above URLs, it may be necessary to copy and paste the hyperlinks into your Internet browser's URL address field. Remove the space if one exists.)

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