Glaucoma test saves sight
Having a routine eye check has a woman counting her blessings.
If she had not had the check her glaucoma would have gone undetected, and left untreated she could have lost her sight.
Anne Simpson wants to help spread the message that blindness caused by the disease can be avoided.
About seven years ago the condition was detected and she was referred to a specialist who treated the problem with eye drops.
She has no side effects of the eye drops, which lower pressure in the eye, and has a two-yearly check up.
Mrs Simpson’s father was close to being blind from the disease so she knew she should have a check.
“It makes a big difference to be detected early on.”
A family history of glaucoma, steroid use, eye injuries, and significant long or short sightedness are factors that can increase chances of developing glaucoma.
It is the most common cause of preventable blindness in New Zealand.
Auckland University associate professor Helen Danesh-Meyer says there is ongoing worldwide research into the disease.
Glaucoma causes damage to the optic nerve fibres which carry visual messages from the eye to the brain.
“We do have good research findings to indicate risk factors for glaucoma, and we know that lowering eye pressure helps maintain the optic nerve,” she says.
Glaucoma New Zealand views supporting research into glaucoma as an essential strategy towards its goal of preventing blindness in the community.
“Research is the key to providing quality care in the short term and to finding a solution to glaucoma in the long term,” chairman Dr Ken Tarr says.
“We welcome dona- tions or bequests to further research.”
The charitable trust has free information sessions.
Many people do not realise that glaucoma has no detectable symptoms until it is well advanced, when it may be too late to prevent total blindness.
Glaucoma New Zealand recommends that everyone has an eye examination by the age of 45 then every five years after that until age 60, then threeyearly checks.
Those with risk factors for glaucoma such as a family history of glaucoma or steroid use should be examined earlier and more frequently.
For more information visit www.glaucoma. org.nz.
Sights set: Anne Simpson is thankful that by detecting her glaucoma early she won’t go blind.