World Glaucoma Week

Posted on March 6, 2014 by Guest Writer
Smiling couple

It’s the kind of campaign that Brits like sinking their teeth into – literally. Hold on to your knives and forks because World Glaucoma Week is running from 9-15 March in a cafeteria, kitchen or world landmark near you.

During this fundraising and awareness event thousands of people around the world will be encouraged to organise ‘BIG’ breakfasts.

It could be a traditional English breakfast, a continental croissant or a bowl of ordinary cornflakes, but one thing is for sure, there will be more awareness raising breakfasts eaten around the world during World Glaucoma Week than you can shake a spoon at. Savvy readers may suspect that ‘BIG’ is an acronym – and you’d be right, it stands for Beat Invisible Glaucoma.

What is glaucoma?

Many of us have no idea what Glaucoma is, unless it has affected you or your friends and family personally. With this in mind, the aim of the week-long BIG Breakfast campaign is to raise public awareness that glaucoma is a silent disease and has no warning symptoms. To put you in the picture, glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that cause irreversible damage to the optic nerve.

Those with the condition have reduced peripheral vision and because the loss of sight is so slow, the problem is not usually detected until the late stages of the disease, when it’s too late. Sadly, if it’s left untreated the condition deteriorates and can lead to permanent blindness. According to the NHS, there are around 480,000 people in England with chronic open-angle glaucoma (the most common type). Read more about the symptoms of glaucoma here.

You are at increased risk of developing glaucoma if you are over 40, have a family history, are short sighted, diabetic or are of African-Caribbean origin. Worldwide, it’s the second most common cause of blindness with an estimated 4.5 million people blind as a result of glaucoma. This number is set to rise to 11.2 million by 2020 – read about how glaucoma is diagnosed here.

BIG Breakfast

So it’s against this backdrop that the World Glaucoma Association (WGA) and World Glaucoma Patient Association (WGPA) have organised the BIG Breakfast campaign, bringing the fight against the disease to the breakfast table to get those numbers under control.

Participating countries are hosting fundraising breakfasts next to famous landmarks such as the Place de la Nation in Paris. Families who are unable to travel to distant locations will serve breakfasts in their own homes, schools, offices, local pubs and communities. Meanwhile, a host of free eye screening events will also be held worldwide during the week, to help detect cases before they permanently damage the eye.

To see which events are being organised around the world, click here.

If you are thinking of organising a BIG Breakfast, you’ll find plenty of inspiration here. Once you are ready to go, don’t forget to register your awareness event on the World Glaucoma Week website so everyone around the world can see what you are up to.