HOW OF­TEN should you have your eyes ex­am­ined? This is a ques­tion I find my­self ask­ing my pa­tients daily. Most have no idea, and those who of­fer some kind of an­swer, more of­ten than not, re­spond, “ev­ery two years”. The re­al­ity be­ing that they re­turn when they need or want new eye­wear, in­vari­ably ev­ery two to four years.

While that reg­i­men may be fine when we have the ben­e­fit of youth on our side, I’m afraid it isn’t the in­tel­li­gent ap­proach as mid­dle age creeps in. In a sim­i­lar man­ner that an­nual check-ups with our gen­eral practitioners be­come im­por­tant, so does an an­nual eye ex­am­i­na­tion. At Eye Q Op­ti­cal, we rec­om­mend that for ev­ery­one 35 years and over, or in par­tic­u­lar high-risk groups, for ex­am­ple, di­a­bet­ics, per­sons with an im­me­di­ate fam­ily his­tory of glau­coma and the se­verely short-sighted, check-ups be doen an­nu­ally.

I’m al­ways im­pressed at how many of my pa­tients have heard of the dis­ease glau­coma and then dis­ap­pointed that so few know any­thing about how to limit their risk in this re­gard.

West In­di­ans are blessed with many awe­some qual­i­ties and at­tributes, but, un­for­tu­nately, they are also more prone to de­vel­op­ing this sight-threat­en­ing dis­ease. Now, while we don’t know the de­fin­i­tive causes of the most com­mon type of glau­coma and can­not cure it, we do know how to pre­vent it steal­ing your sight. Yes, that’s right, glau­coma will be the silent thief in the night grad­u­ally rob­bing you of your pre­cious gift of sight if left un­di­ag­nosed; and herein lies the great­est prob­lem with the dis­ease. SAVE YOUR VI­SION By the time you no­tice some­thing is wrong, it’s too late to save your vi­sion!

Just this week, I saw a lovely gen­tle­man from the coun­try who pre­sented for his first-ever eye ex­am­i­na­tion in his mid-50s. I’m al­ways wor­ried when they tell me this and, in this case, my con­cern proved grounded. Tired of us­ing the ‘phar­macy glasses’ to help him read, he wanted some­thing that he could ‘judge’. On the ini­tial ex­am­i­na­tion, he ap­peared quite per­fect. Awe­some dis­tance vi­sion, eas­ily achiev­ing 20/20 vi­sion with­out the need for glasses and with some glasses for read­ing could eas­ily read the finest of print; typ­i­cal for his age. How­ever, when I took a look in his eyes, my heart sank. His op­tic nerve showed typ­i­cal quite ad­vanced glau­coma dam­age and I knew his eye pres­sure would be high, about twice the high­est max­i­mum ‘nor­mal’ pres­sure. I per­son­ally took him to the oph­thal­mol­o­gist and begged him to see him so he could start on pres­surelow­er­ing drops im­me­di­ately.

And that’s the kicker. No­tice­able vis­ual loss from glau­coma is quite pre­ventable by us­ing eye drops daily. These drops don’t cure the dis­ease but rather slow its pro­gres­sion, so the ear­lier you at­tend for ex­am­i­na­tion, the more likely we are to be able to save your sight so you never no­tice any symp­toms from the dis­ease.

Com­pre­hen­sive eye ex­am­i­na­tions not only screen for glau­coma but other treat­able eye and gen­eral health is­sues, as well as the more sin­is­ter con­di­tions like brain tu­mours.

Eighty per cent of the world’s blind­ness is pre­ventable. Surely, an an­nual ex­am­i­na­tion is not too high a price to pay to re­tain what is ar­guably our most im­por­tant sense.

At Eye Q Op­ti­cal, we are avail­able to pro­vide com­pre­hen­sive eye ex­am­i­na­tions per­formed by fully qual­i­fied and lo­cally reg­is­tered op­tometrists from Tues­days to Satur­days. Our charge is very rea­son­ably priced at $3,500, and we ac­cept all ma­jor health in­sur­ances.

How much is your sight worth to you?

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