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Focus on stroke: optician’s award-winning initiative sees 1 in 3 receive GP referrals after worrying blood pressure readings

Press Release   •   May 06, 2016 11:48 BST

The Gateshead Millennium Bridge is turned purple to support stroke awareness

Results of Vision Express blood pressure clinic revealed as UK marks Stroke Association awareness drive called ‘Make May Purple’

Blood pressure checks carried out at Vision Express in a bid to highlight the dangers of increased blood pressure as a ‘silent killer’ have resulted in 1 in 3 people being referred to a GP.

The findings - from a joint initiative between Vision Express and the Stroke Association - are announced as UK welcomes the charity’s awareness-raising month: ‘Make May Purple’.

Introduced in selected Vision Express stores nationwide, around 300 members of the public have already taken advantage of the vital tests. 

Early results demonstrate a concerning lack of awareness of blood pressure dangers, with underlying issues leading to a significant number of participants being referred to a GP, and some to hospital for urgent attention.

The scheme is being rolled out further during 2016, as the latest Stroke Association research (April 2016) calls on the public, and particularly men, to wake up to stroke risk. It reports that over half of all UK men (60%) are unaware of their blood pressure. What’s more, men are 25% more likely to have a stroke at a younger age compared to women.

Jon Barrick, chief executive of the Stroke Association, said: “High blood pressure is a silent killer, but a simple and painless test could prevent a devastating stroke. Too few people are aware just how serious stroke is or that up to 80% of strokes could be prevented. It’s vital that everyone knows what their blood pressure should be and gets it checked.”

High blood pressure affects 9.2 million people in the UK and a further estimated 6.8 million could be living without a diagnosis. Uncontrolled blood pressure can, over time, lead to stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidney damage and eye problems. In 2014 alone, over 16,000 men in the UK died of stroke.

Vision Express forged a partnership with the Stroke Association to educate customers about the condition and its impact on sight. Up to 60% of stroke survivors will experience visual problems, yet one in three stroke survivors are not warned that sight loss could be a problem or that treatment and support is available. Via an eye test, Vision Express optometrists can to identify indicators of increased blood pressure, which is the biggest stroke risk.

Jenny Wye, Senior PR Manager at Vision Express added: “We’re extremely proud to be working with the Stroke Association. Our efforts in delivering ‘Know Your Blood Pressure’ events in stores and company-wide initiatives have not only engaged customers, employees and the general public, but have received national recognition from industry award schemes, such as the CIPR, Corporate Engagement Awards and National CSR Awards.

“Vision Express is committed to continuing to raise awareness of the help and treatment available for stroke survivors, and lending our support to the important work the Stroke Association does.”

More ‘Know Your Blood Pressure’ events are taking part at selected Vision Express stores nationwide throughout 2016. 

Did you know?

  • There are around 1.2 million stroke survivors in the UK
  • Undiagnosed high blood pressure is estimated to effect up to 6.8 million people in the UK
  • Over half (54%) of strokes in England, Wales and Northern Ireland can, in part, be attributed to high blood pressure
  • 26% of all strokes in the UK occur in the under 65s
  • The number of 20 to 64 year olds having a stroke between 1990 to 2010 (worldwide) has increased by 25%

Case study

A former publican from Pangbourne, Reading, can see her grandchildren again, after a visit to her local Vision Express store. Sue Jellett, 73, suffered a severe stroke in 2009, which left her hospitalised for over three months and caused extensive sight problems. Accompanied by husband David, Sue visited four or five opticians to find help, but due to short term memory loss from the stroke, and with standard eye testing based on remembering visual prompts, the process caused Sue further frustration. A consultation with a Vision Express optometrist offering tailored testing techniques resulted in both Sue and David being referred to hospital and undergoing cataracts surgery, which has had a positive impact on their vision and quality of life. [Further details and imagery are available.]

Vision Express offers an eye test to best practice guidelines of the College of Optometrists (COO), with each Vision Express optometrist being a qualified eye health professional. To find your nearest Vision Express store and make an eye test appointment visit: http://www.visionexpress.com/opticians/

About Vision Express

Vision Express is the third largest optical retailer in the UK and part of GrandVision,the global leader in optical retail operating across 43 countries, spanning over 5,800 stores and online.

With more than 390 stores nationwide, Vision Express first opened its doors in Newcastle in 1988. Built on a passion for the profession, it has gone from strength to strength, driven by a commitment to unparalleled customer service and providing the best individual optical care, the right product and great value. Customers can select from a vast range of genuine designer brands and the latest technology lenses, through to complete glasses from £39.

Vision Express is considered one of the leading and most trusted opticians in the UK and Ireland, with its European offering supported through sister eye care brands Grand Optical, Solaris and Generale D'Optique.

With around 4,000 employees, Vision Express makes a significant difference to the communities it operates within, and the organisations it chooses to support. As part of its commitment to Vision. Taken Seriously, and as a responsible and caring retailer, Vision Express is proud to partner with a range of healthcare charities, which have touched the lives of customers and teams. These companies provide vital support to people affected by vision-related conditions. They are part of the Vision Express Charity Project and include:

  • Alzheimer’s Research UK
  • Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (CHECT)
  • International Glaucoma Association
  • Macular Society
  • Stroke Association
  • Temple Street University Hospital.

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