Glau­coma test saves sight

Central Leader - - News - By Ni­cola Wil­liams

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.

Photo: SHANE WENZLICK

Sights set: Anne Simp­son is thank­ful that by de­tect­ing her glau­coma early she won’t go blind.

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