Thousands have glaucoma without knowing, say experts


London: Glaucoma affects up to half a million people in the UK and is the second largest cause of unnecessary sight loss.[1]

Around a quarter of a million people don’t know they have the condition as glaucoma often doesn’t have any symptoms in its early stages.[1] Boots Opticians urges you to have regular sight tests, which are crucial to help detect early signs of the disease.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. To book an eye test at Boots Opticians, call 0845 120 4343 or visit

Carolyn Zweig, Boots Opticians says: ‘Regular eye tests are a vital health check, which not only test your sight, but they can also detect eye conditions such as glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration, before you notice the effect on your sight. How often you have an eye test depends on your age and the recommendation of your optometrist, but as a general rule, children should be taken for an eye examination by the age of five and eye tests should be taken every two years after that until the age of 70. At 70 and beyond, you should have an eye test every year.’

Facts about glaucoma

The first World Glaucoma Day was March 6th 2008
There are four types of glaucoma – the most common is open angle or chronic glaucoma

Chronic glaucoma causes gradual blockage of the eye’s drainage tubes leading to a build-up of pressure which damages the optic nerves
50 per cent of glaucoma sufferers go undiagnosed in developed countries[2]
Up to 95 per cent of glaucoma sufferers go undiagnosed in the developing world [2]
Around two in every 100 people over 40 in the UK have glaucoma [3] which equates to approximately 600,000 people


[2] World Glaucoma Association

4 Based on figures from The Office of National Statistics
5 The College Of Optometrists

Men are blind to beauty when it comes to mating


Amsterdam: Men are blind to beauty when it comes to mating opportunities, new research confirms.

Human testosterone triggers an automatic reaction which has evolved in man when faced with a woman, to look for mating opportunities, and it does not matter if the woman is not attractive, the research reveals.

Research involving a group of male students found that their levels of the hormone testosterone increased to the same extent whether they were talking to a young woman they found attractive – or to one they didn’t fancy much at all.

After 300 seconds alone in the same room as a woman they had never met before, and in some cases did not find particularly attractive, the men’s testosterone levels of the hormone had shot up by an average of around eight percent.

The rising levels may then fuel more visible changes in male behaviour that occur in the presence of a woman, including a squaring of shoulders, an upright posture, and greater use of hands – and even, it is suggested, a flaring of the nostrils.

The rise in the male hormone may also be the reason why men are more likely to tell women exaggerated stories about their job, career, education and earnings, the researchers believe.

The study, published in the journal Hormones and Behaviour, involved 63 male students aged 21 to 25 who were not aware of the purpose of the study.

Men who were rated as more aggressive or dominant types had registered even higher testosterone levels. The results also show that testosterone levels did not change when they were in the room with another man.

Leander van der Meij, who led the study at the University of Groningen in Holland, said: “We found a testosterone increase after only five minutes of exposure to a woman. Our results suggest that the increase in testosterone levels that we found, may be an automatic male response that activates receptors in organs and the nervous system to prepare the human body for mate attraction.”

The Telegraph quotes him as saying: “Once levels have risen, they can display more dominant behaviour. They talk more with their hands, there is more eye contact, their posture is more upright, and they are more likely to tell stories designed to impress the woman. We know that women can be attracted by these kinds of things. All this, we believe, may be fuelled by the rise in testosterone that we have found.”

Spire offers new injection for age-related blindness


London: A new quick procedure not widely available on the NHS which treats age related blindness disease is now available at 13 Spire Healthcare hospitals around the UK.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) affects the central part of your vision and occurs mainly in older people. About one in 100 people aged 65-75 and one in eight people aged over 85 suffer from serious AMD that can result in complete loss of central vision.

There are two types of AMD known as the wet kind and the dry kind. Wet AMD is more destructive and is characterised by abnormal blood vessels growing at the back of the eye. These extra blood vessels leak and can cause rapid loss of sight.

Mr Timothy Dabbs, a specialist eye consultant at Spire Leeds Hospital said:
“Although Wet AMD progresses rapidly and is destructive it is treatable. We inject a special drug under a local anaesthetic to control the growth of abnormal blood vessels in the eye.

“On average a patient will need six injections, they are quick procedures
and patients can normally go home about an hour later. Although they may
not regain full sight, the treatment will often prevent further damage and in some instances can reverse some of the damage already caused.”

Erika Bennett, a patient recently treated at Spire Leeds Hospital, said:
“From not being able to read at all I can now read with my reading glasses.
There is a small improvement with every injection and the treatment itself isn’t painful.

“The staff at the hospital made me feel very comfortable. I had lots of confidence and trust in Mr Dabbs as he made sure he explained every detail of the procedure to me. I would recommend anyone suffering with this condition to try this treatment.”

How to tell if you have AMD
If you’re concerned that you or someone you know may be suffering from AMD, the best self test is to look directly at a straight line such as a door or window frame and using only one eye at a time to see if there is a noticeable kink in the frame which appears to move with your gaze. Your optician will be able to confirm if there is deterioration in your eyes.

The Hospitals currently offering this treatment include:

Spire Bushey Hospital

Spire Cambridge Lea Hospital

Spire Cardiff Hospital

Spire Edinburgh Hospital

Spire Gatwick Park Hospital

Spire Harpenden Hospital

Spire Leeds Hospital

Spire Leicester Hospital

Spire Manchester Hospital

Spire Norwich Hospital

Spire Southampton Hospital

Spire Sussex Hospital

Spire Wellesley Hospital

About Spire
Spire Healthcare is one of the leading independent hospital providers in the UK, with a 25 year heritage of customer service and clinical excellence. It was formed in 2007 from the sale of BUPA Hospitals to leading private equity company Cinven.

Spire Healthcare has 25 hospitals across the UK, providing services for private and insured patients as well as NHS funded patients under the government’s Choose and Book scheme. It also offers cosmetic and weight-loss surgery.

Its hospitals carry out more than 160,000 in-patient and day-case treatments a year and work with over 3,000 consultants. It is proud to be the first independent hospital group to publish clinical outcome data.

Thousands may go blind as UK government denies key drug to elderly

London: The UK government’s drug watchdog is refusing to allow doctors to precribe a drug which could save the sight of thousands of elderly people who live in England and Wales.

At the same time the drug – Macugen – is available on the public health service, the NHS, to those living in Scotland.

Macugen is used to treat the wet form of age-related macular degeneration, where veins leak causing blindness.

The watchdog, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. said another drug, Lucentis, could be used but only if patients have gone almost blind in one eye and the disease is far progressed in the other.

It also restricted the use of Lucentis to a specific type of the condition which affects only around 20 per cent of sufferers.

There are around 26,000 new cases of wet AMD, which affects the macular region at the back of the eye, in the UK every year.

Based on Nice’s recommendations, 80 per cent of these patients – more than 20,000 a year – will be left to go blind. Macugen and Lucentis, known as antiVEGF drugs, stop the deterioration of the sight.

On Monday the Scottish Medicines Consortium, the rationing body north of the border, approved Lucentis for all NHS patients after previously giving the green light to Macugen.

It is the latest example of post-devolution Scotland giving its patients access to many drugs denied those in England and Wales, which is covered by NICE.

The drugs are also available in many other countries including Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy, the U.S. and Australia.

Nice’s draft guidance, which is up for consultation, was greeted with anger from charities, clinicians and opposition politicians. The Royal National Institute of Blind People said it was ‘outraged’.

Head of campaigns Steve Winyard said: ‘Anti-VEGF drugs have the potential to halve the number of people going blind each year and patients in the UK who can benefit from them must all have them – and quickly.

‘It is simply unacceptable that Nice is recommending that only a small minority of patients within England and Wales will benefit from these ground-breaking treatments. Nice must reconsider.

‘Anti-VEGF drugs are cost- effective. It is much more expensive to support someone once they have lost their sight than to provide sight-saving treatment.’

Tom Bremridge, chief executive of the Macular Disease Society, said: ‘Limiting the treatment options to 20 per cent of patients who would benefit is unjustifiable and allowing one eye to go blind before treating the second is cruel and totally unacceptable.’

Winifred Amoaku, consultant at the Royal College of Opthalmologists, said the two drugs worked differently. She attacked the fact that only Lucentis had been given the go-ahead because some patients would benefit more from Macugen.

‘Both treatments should be made available to opthalmologists,’ she said. ‘One treatment doesn’t fit all and opthalmologists should be able to prescribe the most suitable option for their patient.’

The Nice ruling comes despite a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine which found that the sight of nine out of ten patients given Lucentis improved or stabilised after two years of treatment.

Lucentis costs up to £2,000 per injection or £28,000 for a full course of treatment, which is 14 injections over two years. Macugen is around £1,800 per injection or £36,000 for a full course of 20 injections.

Dr David Gillen, medical director of Macugen manufacturer Pfizer, said: ‘Macugen has been shown to maintain vision in patients will all types of wet AMD and has a licence to reflect this.

‘From a cost perspective, it has been convincingly demonstrated that Macugen’s cost-effectiveness can be enhanced when treatment is started at an early stage before too much vision is lost.’

Dirty contact lenses put wearers at risk of blindness

London: Almost three quarters of contact lens wearers are risking blindness because of their dirty habits, according to a new study out today. The new figures show one in five people lick their contact lenses before putting them in their eyes and two out of five apply their lenses with dirty hands.

Shockingly over 15% of wearers will pick an unwashed contact lens off the floor and pop it in their eye and 70% of people keep their lenses in for far too long every day. But careless contact lens wearers rarely realise their bad habits increase the risk of their contracting eye diseases, including conjunctivitis and acanthamoeba keratitis, a rare but very painful and potentially blinding infection of the cornea, the transparent covering at the front of the eye.

Men are the lazy ones when it comes to caring for their eyes, with more than half sleeping in their lenses and 44% not bothering to wash their hands before putting their lenses in. But surprisingly women have the dirtiest habits. Nearly a quarter of women lick their lenses before popping them in their eyes and 16% will use a dirty lens they have dropped on the floor, according to research by the UK’s College of Optometrists. And you have heard of sharing make-up, some women even share their contact lenses with their best friends.

Experts warn even habits that seem harmless such as washing lenses in tap water or with a different cleansing solution can damage the wearers’ eyes. Tap water contains bacteria that can blind you and using the wrong solution not only harms the lens but can also produce allergic reactions or even burn the eye.

Optometrists advise contact lens wearers never to wear other people’s lenses, a lens that is chipped or damaged or put the wrong lens in the wrong eye. The experts add people should always clean their lenses either after wearing them or before putting them in their eyes and to make sure their hands are clean before handling them.
And a final warning, don’t wear your lenses too long or sleep in them and visit an optometrist at least every two years.

Kevin Lewis, President of the College of Optometrists said: “Good eye care is crucial for everyone but even more important for those of us who wear contact lenses. Poor hygiene can lead to infections which range from a simply uncomfortable but temporary problem to a very nasty health issue that may lead to blindness in a matter of days.”

“Our eyes are precious and we need to appreciate that treating them carelessly and with bad hygiene habits is likely to cause problems in the future.”

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British doctors restore eyesight with stem cells

London: British doctors have restored eyesight by using stem cells to replace damaged cells.

Although the results have delighted experts, the charity the Royal National Institute for the Blind warned that sufferers of blindness should not raise their hopes until further trials are carried out.

The treatment could also help sufferers of macular degeneration – the most common cause of blindness in the elderly – and those who have lost their sight as a complication of diabetes.

The researchers, from University College London and London’s Moorfields Eye Hospital, used stem cells – basic cells with the ability to turn into different types of tissue – to restore the vision in blind mice.

The cells were injected into the back of the eye where they replaced damaged photoreceptors – the tiny light-sensitive cells on the retina.

Until now, there was no way of reversing the damage – and previous stem cell transplants had failed.

Central to the success of the technique was the selection of cells which were slightly more mature than those tried by other scientists.

These cells turned into photoreceptors and successfully connected with the nerves leading to the brain. By shining light into the animals’ eyes, the researchers were able to show that vision had been restored to around a quarter of normal levels. Increasing the number and type of cells transplanted could improve sight even further.

The scientists caution that the technique is still in its infancy. But Dr MacLaren, of Moorfields Eye Hospital, said: ‘This research is the first to show photoreceptor transplantation is feasible. We are now confident that this is the avenue to pursue to uncover ways of restoring vision to thousands.’