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World Glaucoma Week: Diane Louise Jordan speaks out

Posted on: Sunday, March 8th, 2020

Broadcaster Diane Louise Jordan has spoken about her father’s experience of glaucoma and highlighted the urgent need for greater access to sight-saving diagnosis and treatment, after a trip to see CBM’s work in Rwanda.

In Huye District of Southern Rwanda, Diane met Vincent, 73, who has glaucoma and heard about the challenges he faces because of the disease. Watch the film of their encounter (open link in new tab):

Meeting Vincent: a film for World Glaucoma Week transcript (open link in new tab)

Although she is well known for her work presenting iconic BBC shows Blue Peter and Songs of Praise, Diane has rarely spoken publicly about her family’s sight problems. As a young man her father lost sight in one eye due to an accident at work. He then developed glaucoma in later life, leaving him almost completely blind.

 “This has particular personal relevance for me because my own father completely lost his sight to glaucoma”, explains Diane.

“I know so well from my own experience that getting prompt diagnosis and effective treatment for glaucoma is vital. Sadly my Dad was diagnosed too late, but I saw how hard the doctors worked to save the last pin-prick of sight he had left”. 

Ahead of World Glaucoma Week, Diane and her 12 year-old grandson Preston visited CBM’s partner eye hospital in Rwanda and saw the challenges people living in poverty face to access eye health services.  At his home in Huye District, she met 73 year-old Vincent, who has glaucoma and faces a journey of up to 7 hours each way on foot and by bus to access the treatment he needs at CBM’s partner hospital.

Vincent, who used to work as a farmer, a builder and a carpenter, has already lost much of his vision to glaucoma. He must apply eye drops every day and attend hospital several times a year for check-ups and treatment. Without this, he would lose all of his remaining sight.

Diane herself has regular eye checks to check for early signs of glaucoma, as her family history puts her at higher risk. After seeing CBM’s work in Rwanda and meeting Vincent, she is even more passionate about encouraging others to have regular eye tests in the UK and beyond.  

“A lot of us try to struggle through and we put things off or we don’t want to feel like a hypochondriac.  Sadly I wish my father had been a hypochondriac because by the time he had got to the opticians he had glaucoma and it was quite advanced. He really lost his confidence and it spurred me on to ensure that I get my eyes tested every year. If you’re 40 and above and have a family history of glaucoma, you can get free eye testing.  There’s an optician on virtually every high street and it’s just once a year for a couple of minutes. To me, this seems a very small price to pay to look after our sight.”

“It seems mad not to take advantage of the treatment we have easy access to. CBM works to provide the same treatment we have for free on the NHS for people in the developing world.” 

“Nobody should needlessly lose their sight to conditions like glaucoma, so I’m hoping that you’ll join me today in supporting CBM’s vital work delivering eye health services where they are most needed. And if you give right now, your gift will help twice as many people to see the way to the brighter future!”

See the Way appeal

Every day, people in the world’s poorest places become needlessly blind because of conditions that can be easily treated, like cataracts or glaucoma. Worldwide, an incredible 3 out of 4 people who are blind don’t need to be. And too often, if you live in a poor community, losing your sight also means losing the chance to go to school, live independently or earn a living.

Logo: Matching your donations with UK Aid

CBM believes that everyone should have access to eye health services so the See the Way appeal aims to deliver sight-saving treatments, glasses and support in the world’s poorest places. Between 12 February and 12 May 2020, all public donations to the See the Way appeal will be doubled by the UK government, up to £2 million.

Find out more and support See the Way today (open link in new tab).


Image: Diane Louise Jordan meets Vincent, 73, who has glaucoma at his home in Rwanda. (c) CBM/Tugwell