Practice owner talks about his own glaucoma in order to help others

Working in an opticians practice, Alan Honeybone is well aware of the importance of eye tests in checking the health of people’s eyes – including his own. 

Alan has been the director of Specsavers in Camborne, Cornwall, for 31 years. He was diagnosed with slow onset open-angle glaucoma after one of his colleagues spotted symptoms of the disease during a routine eye examination. To raise awareness of glaucoma Alan is using his own experience to help prevent needless sight loss in others.

Alan says: ‘I have annual eye tests as there is history of glaucoma in previous generations of my family. My parents didn’t have the disease but by grandmother and great grandmother suffered. Regardless, in the weeks and months leading up to the eye test I didn’t have any symptoms whatsoever. Thankfully my colleague, an ophthalmologist working in store, detected a cupping of my optic disc and slight field defects (a loss of peripheral vision). He referred me to the local hospital where my glaucoma was diagnosed before any irreversible damage was done and I was able to start treatment immediately.’

To prevent symptoms worsening, Alan uses daily eye drops of Xalatan (0.005% latanoprost) to prevent the condition from developing further. He says that now it’s easy to remember to put the drops in as he does this as a daily routine, in front of the bathroom mirror after cleaning his teeth at night. 

Alan adds: ‘My older brother (of three years) also suffers from glaucoma and has had a laser iridotomy operation to treat the condition. The disease can often run in families, that’s why we ask for your family’s eye history when you come for an eye test.’

At least 600,000 people in England and Wales suffer from the condition, and around 64 million worldwide. Research also shows that men are 16 per cent more likely than women to suffer advanced vision loss on diagnosis of the condition. 

Alan originally trained as an optical lab technician, and went on to own a Specsavers store, has been a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers for more than 34 years. The Company is the oldest optical body still existing in the world, having been founded by Royal Charter nearly 400 years ago. Over the centuries they have been responsible for upholding quality and encouraging better vision, for a better life. Alan’s  contribution to the industry has recently been recognised when he became a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company. 

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