20-year-old Brighton student, Dean Caldecourt, is urging the City’s residents to take their eye health seriously after visiting the Vision Express Vision Van on Tuesday 13 March. The high-tech mobile testing vehicle visited Ship Street for one day only as part of a UK tour to mark World Glaucoma Week (11–18 March), after Brighton was identified as having a high prevalence of the sight-stealing condition. An estimated 4,000 residents have glaucoma and over 46 per cent of the local population aged over 45 are deemed ‘at risk’.
“The City has a large amount of students who might struggle to afford an examination so anything that can help with that is a great initiative.”Dean says he was passing the van when he noticed the free eye test offer and decided to pop in. “I’d not had an examination for over three years so I thought today was as good a time as any and I’m really glad I decided to go inside.” he explains. “Everyone was so welcoming and kind and really made me feel at ease. “I think it’s a brilliant idea to bring the van to Brighton and offer free testing.
Local journalist, Steve Holloway, who also visited the van was advised to seek medical attention after a suspected macular edema was detected during his free examination. “I’d not had an eye examination for a few years so when I heard the Vision Van was offering free tests, it seemed like a good opportunity to get one.” he says.
“I’d noticed a slight deterioration over the last year or so but just what you’d associate with getting older, such as finding it harder to read close up.”
Optometrist, Nitika Sondhi, who carried out Steve’s eye examination was concerned when she spotted an abnormality on the retina of his left eye. After carrying out numerous tests including an Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) – using a special light and camera for detailed views of the cell layers inside the retina – she referred him to the eye hospital for further investigation.
“I was impressed with the high-tech equipment in the Vision Van, and anyone who is thinking about having an eye test or has any concerns at all should just do it. It’s a really easy process and I’m glad I took the opportunity when I did.”Macular edema is the build-up of fluid in the macula, an area in the centre of the retina. Fluid build up causes the macula to swell and thicken, which distorts vision. “It was a bit of a shock to be honest.” says Steve. “I wasn’t expecting to be referred to hospital but I’m so grateful it was picked up and can hopefully be treated early.
Vision Express has launched its brand-new Vision Van amid new research showing that the number of glaucoma cases in the UK is likely to top 1.28 million by 2050 – an increase of 85%. The high-tech mobile eye testing facility is journeying across the UK to areas with higher than average cases of the sight-stealing condition, offering free eye tests to the public during World Glaucoma Week.Over 50 per cent of those who visited the Vision Van on the same day admitted to not having had a test in over two years; 30 per cent had not had a test since they passed their driving test. In total, 75 per cent were issued with new prescriptions, with 1 in 4 admitting they hadn’t had an eye test in more than ten years.
Vision Express CEO Jonathan Lawson said: “To celebrate our 30 years of trading, we’ve worked with the Road Haulage Association to put on the road a top-of-the-range mobile eye testing vehicle. It is equipped with the very latest in eye testing technology, including OCT, which a study has revealed can pick up glaucoma up to eight years before any sight loss is experienced.”
One of the biggest causes of preventable sight loss worldwide, glaucoma is the name given to a group of eye conditions in which the main nerve to the eye (the optic nerve) is damaged where it leaves the eye. This nerve carries information about what is being seen from the eye to the brain and, as it becomes damaged, vision is lost. There are an estimated 600,000 people with glaucoma in the UK, but research indicates half of those are undiagnosed.
For those unable to visit the Vision Van during its tour, downloadable, free eye test vouchers are available between 12-25 March on the Vision Express website www.visionexpress.com/world-glaucoma-week-2018/free-eye-test and valid for redemption in any of the retailer’s stores nationwide by the 30th April 2018.
For further information about World Glaucoma Week, visit: www.visionexpress.com/world-glaucoma-week-2018