World Glaucoma Week (11th to 17th March) aims to educate people about how to assess their risk for glaucoma and to be aware of the importance of regular eye examinations and disease detection. It also seeks to provide support for patients with Glaucoma. World Glaucoma Week was developed in response to the concern over the worldwide increase in the number of people with glaucoma, as the population grows and ages. More people are therefore at risk of going blind from this disease if they do not have the condition detected and treated.
First things first. Just what is Glaucoma?
It’s the name given to a group of conditions in which the optic nerve suffers a characteristic form of damage at the back of the eye. The optic nerve damage causes patchy loss of vision that varies in severity from patient to patient. Without treatment, the loss of vision usually gets worse over the course of many months or several years. The loss of vision in glaucoma is permanent, but with early treatment, the damage to vision can be minimised.
Blindness from glaucoma is rare. If blindness does occur, it is usually because the glaucoma is already advanced when it’s first diagnosed, because the eye pressure has not responded well to treatment or because patients have not taken their drops regularly.
What events are available for World Glaucoma Week?
You can find a list of all organised events in the World Glaucoma Week website, at www.wgweek.net. The World Glaucoma Association (WGA) and World Glaucoma Patient Association (WGPA) were created to minimise visual disability from glaucoma, and to improve the lives of glaucoma patients around the world.
As part of World Glaucoma Week, we wanted to do our bit by sharing some information with you about travelling if you’re blind or partially sighted, as a result of glaucoma or any other condition.
- Travel Insurance: Make sure you obtain specialist travel insurance that covers you for your glaucoma, and any other medical conditions, to ensure you can travel with complete peace of mind
- Mobility Aids: Before you travel you should think whether you need a mobility aid like a cane if you do not currently have one. Your local Social Services can help supply you with mobility aids.
- Transport on holiday:
- Bus: If possible try to obtain details of bus routes in the area you are travelling to. They may even provide details in Braille or on tape. Let the locals know what you are trying to achieve.
- Taxi: Try and obtain details of local taxi firms in advance. Your hotel may be able to provide this to you. When ordering a taxi be sure to let them know you have problems with your sight.
- Train: Ideally when travelling by train, try and arrange a companion to travel with you. Try to get details of train times and destinations in advance. If possible be aware of the number of stops you will have to travel through to get to your destination. If you’re travelling alone on a train, it might help to write the name of your destination on a piece of paper to show someone whilst you are onboard the train. Alternatively, say the name of your destination to someone nearby and hopefully they will let you know when you are arriving.
Do let us know if you have any other tips about travel when partially sighted or blind, which you can share below.