One of the things that shocks people when they first learn that they have Giant Cell Arteritis (or temporal arteritis) is to discover that if they had not got treatment in time they might have suffered permanent and irreversible damage to their vision. In fact, hundreds of elderly people a year in the UK may be going completely blind (i.e. in both eyes) because their GCA has caused a 'stroke in the eye'. Up to one in four people with GCA only get diagnosed after their sight is already damaged. The estimate of 'hundreds' is based on generalising one published study to the population as a whole. The fact is that we just don't know for sure the extent of the problem.
But for anyone to lose their sight is tragic, especially since in this case it should be easily preventable. Once on treatment for GCA, with corticosteroids, patients are very unlikely indeed to suffer any vision damage. Of course, nobody wants to go on steroids, but when the alternative is acute pain and the risk of blindness, it's really a no-brainer.
Here at PMRGCAuk we have realised that there is a need to raise awareness, not only among the medical community, but also among the general public, so that people can recognise the signs and seek help, either for themselves or for somebody they know. We have ideas for how we could do this but we need funds. We have just put together a proposal for a demonstration awareness project for the next year or so. To do this we need to raise £20,000. Can you help us?