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Take action now to prevent this from happening.

Tonometry tests, a webinar with specialist guests on local TV channels, a dedicated website and informative leaflets distributed in 160 supermarkets: these are the initiatives promoted by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness – IAPB Italy to combat glaucoma, “the silent thief of sight”.

“Have you ever heard of glaucoma?”, “Do you know the symptoms associated with this disease?” These are among the questions displayed in the informative leaflet that will be distributed during World Glaucoma Week (8-14 March), by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness – IAPB Italy in approximately 160 Fresco and Tuodì supermarkets all over Italy. The aim is to gauge public knowledge about the level of prevention required to  combat a degenerative disease such as glaucoma and raise awareness about the importance of regular eye examinations.

Further information and initiatives will also be communicated on the Facebook page of IAPB Italy and a dedicated website ( www.settimanaglaucoma.it). The names of the cities where free tonometry tests are to be performed in full compliance with anti-Covid-19 regulations will be made available soon. A selection of local Tv channels are also going to broadcast in-depth interviews and these locations can also be found on the website.

The WHO World Report on Vision (October 2019) highlighted that, globally, there are 64 million people affected by glaucoma. Of these, 7 million are already experiencing vision loss or blindness in the most severe and advanced stages of the illness. According to the Italian Society of Ophthalmology, there are one million people affected by glaucoma in Italy, but only one third of them are aware of their illness.

Glaucoma can manifest as a pain in the eye and reduced visual acuity. However, it often occurs and progresses with no perceived symptoms, until damage to the optic nerve is well advanced. For this reason, eye examinations are the only effective prevention tool, which allows for a diagnosis in the earliest and mildest stages of the illness. Among the first symptoms, ophthalmologists instantly detect a reduced visual field, with a difficulty  in seeing objects positioned at its periphery, and alterations to the optic disc, the head of the optic nerve.

Mr. Giuseppe Castronovo, President of IAPB Italy, stressed  that, “The aim of this initiative is to bring about a change in habits. People must understand that regular eye examinations are important. It’s too late to wait for symptoms to appear, not just in the case of glaucoma but also for many other chronic-degenerative diseases, which are bound to be more widespread with the aging of the population.”

Our sight – Mr. Castronovo said at the conclusion of his speech – is a gift which is too often taken for granted. Once lost, it cannot be recovered. Prevention must be a priority for everybody: doctors, institutions and people in general.”

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