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Driving home the dangers of glaucoma

04 April 2013

Events

The risks of driving with a common eye condition will be spelled out by a specialist doctor from Southend University Hospital at a patients' meeting next week.

People with glaucoma who take the wheel risk not only having an accident but could face a hefty fine if they have failed to notify the authorities of their condition.

Consultant ophthalmologist and glaucoma specialist, Mr Saab Bhermi, will be spelling out the regulations when he addresses members of the local Glaucoma Support Group at its seminar on Thursday, April 11.

Glaucoma is caused by a build-up of high pressure which damages a nerve at the back of the eye. It initially causes lack of peripheral vision - vital for road safety - but if left untreated can progress and eventually cause total blindness.

The condition affects approximately one in 50 people over the age of 40, rising to one in 10 over the age of 80. Southend University Hospital's eye department currently sees more than 20,000 patients with glaucoma every year.

Mr Bhermi said: "It is very important to catch the condition early to prevent it getting any worse. Treatments range from eye drops to laser and surgery."

Although most patients with glaucoma in only one eye have no requirement to inform the Driver Vehicle and Licensing Agency (DVLA) provided their other eye is healthy and they meet the visual standards for driving, those with both eyes affected must inform the agency or risk a fine up to £1,000.

Mr Bhermi said: "We know this is a topic which concerns many of our patients so the seminar seemed the ideal opportunity to discuss it in detail."

Patients and their families will also hear a talk on glaucoma eye drops from a member of the International Glaucoma Association.

Everyone is welcome to attend the event which takes place from 4.30pm to 6.45pm at Southend Central Library on Thursday, April 11.