THE opticians’ group Specsavers, including its outlet in Oldham, is on a mission to raise awareness of dry eye syndrome and how it can impact sufferers of glaucoma.

The syndrome, which affects up to 60 per cent of people with glaucoma, occurs when tears evaporate quickly or too few are produced.

Often symptomless in its early stages, glaucoma is one of the leading causes of irreversible sight loss.

It is thought to affect 700,000 people in the UK today, but as many as 50% of cases are undiagnosed. Once diagnosed, it is often treated with eye drops.

Specsavers in Oldham is supporting the International Glaucoma Association’s National Glaucoma Week which started on Monday to raise awareness of glaucoma and dry eye syndrome and the importance of applying regular eye drops.

Specsavers’ support comes during Ramadan, when followers fast every day from before sunrise to after sunset. This has left doubt among some of the Muslim population over when they can administer their eye drops.

Catherine Hughes, store director at Specsavers Oldham, said: “When an individual has a dry eye the surface of the eye becomes inflamed. This inflammation further damages the cells which are responsible for tear production, resulting in a vicious circle of increasing inflammation and dryness.

“We support the IGA and Muslim Council of Britain’s campaign to reassure the Muslim community that drops can be taken before dawn and after sunset, the same times as when food and drink can be consumed.”

She went on: “Our team here in Oldham has undertaken the training and have already been putting it to good use. We want all of our customers to feel at home and in the best hands when they visit and so it’s important we’re equipped with the skills to help.”