National Glaucoma Day, month-long campaign to promote awareness of devastating eye disease

    Campaign kicks off with launch of online learning tool, challenging
    Canadians to educate themselves about glaucoma

    OTTAWA, March 6 /CNW/ - Glaucoma affects 250,000 Canadians - yet only
half of them are aware they have the disease. The Canadian Glaucoma Society
has partnered with the Canadian Ophthalmological Society and CNIB to develop a
national awareness campaign focusing on glaucoma and its risk factors. It
launches on World Glaucoma Day on March 6, 2008 and will run during March
under the theme of "Don't Get Blindsided by Glaucoma".
    The goal of the month is to increase public awareness of the disease, the
second leading cause of blindness both worldwide and in Canada. The campaign
also aims to show that there is now more hope than ever for people who have
    "In recent years, progress in the diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma has
been remarkable. It is now possible to diagnose glaucoma in the early stages,
when we are much more likely to save someone's vision," says Dr. Yvonne Buys,
President, Canadian Glaucoma Society.

    Take the Glaucoma Challenge

    One way Canadians can learn more about the disease is by taking CNIB's
Glaucoma Challenge (, a new, bilingual, multimedia
learning tool that employs user-friendly language, narration and animated
sequences to challenge people to educate themselves about risk factors for
this devastating eye condition or to learn better management strategies if
they already have the disease. The CNIB Glaucoma Challenge is sponsored by
Pfizer Ophthalmology and is part of an award-winning series of online learning
tools developed by CNIB and AXS Biomedical Animation Studios Inc.

    Devastating disease often goes unnoticed, can be treated if caught early

    Glaucoma leads to damage to the optic nerve and results in vision loss
that is essentially progressive and irreversible. Since the disease progresses
gradually beginning with peripheral vision loss that often goes unnoticed by
the patient, people with glaucoma may become aware of it only once it's too
late to prevent permanent damage. Early detection and treatment are of
paramount importance to prevent blindness.
    According to Statistics Canada's Canadian Community Health Survey of
2002-03, nearly three out of every 100 Canadians over the age of 40
self-reported having glaucoma. Best research available (2007) indicates that
250,000 Canadians have the disease, yet only half of them are aware of it.
Since only half of glaucoma sufferers are aware they have the disease, this
likely underestimates the true numbers.
    "Most people are still unaware of the condition, its risk factors and the
fact that treatment is available to prevent severe vision loss," says
Dr. Buys. "Declaring a National Glaucoma Day in Canada will bring about
increased awareness of this devastating disease and its risk factors, and will
encourage people to get regular eye checkups to prevent and treat glaucoma."
    Known risk factors for glaucoma include elevated pressure in the eye,
increasing age, ethnicity (particularly being of African descent), having a
family history of glaucoma, migraines, diabetes, nearsightedness and
abnormally high or low blood pressure.

    About the Canadian Glaucoma Society

    The Canadian Glaucoma Society was established to offer a forum for
Ophthalmologists with an interest in glaucoma to exchange ideas on all aspects
of this sight-threatening disease. The Society meets each year, in conjunction
with the Canadian Ophthalmological Society annual meeting, to present current
topics to the membership from visiting speakers, members and residents in
training. For more information, visit

    About the Canadian Ophthalmological Society

    The Canadian Ophthalmological Society is the national medical specialty
society representing 1,100 eye physicians and surgeons. Its purpose is to
assure the provision of comprehensive eye care to all Canadians by promoting
excellence in Ophthalmology. Visit

    About CNIB

    CNIB is a nationwide, community-based, registered charity committed to
public education, research and the vision health of all Canadians. CNIB
provides the services and support necessary to enjoy a good quality of life
while living with vision loss. To find out more, visit or call

For further information:

For further information: Jessica Parrales, CNIB National Communications,
(416) 486-2500 ext. 7570,

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