It’s Save Our Sight Month

The Tribune (NZ) - - YOUR BODY -

Visique Nay­lor Palmer Op­tometrist Brian Nay­lor says there’s more to Op­tom­e­try than a new pair of glasses.

‘‘It’s about en­sur­ing the health and well-be­ing of your eyes.’’

Vis­it­ing the Op­tometrist does not mean that you will re­quire a new pair of glasses and, even if you can see clearly or find things a lit­tle blurry, you should have a 9-step com­pre­hen­sive eye exam regularly.

It will take 30 to 40 min­utes with your Op­tometrist and helps to en­sure that you can stay fo­cused on the things that are im­por­tant in your life.

Save Our Sight Month has been an an­nual event since 2002 when New Zealand’s op­tometrists took note of the fact that 20 per cent of the peo­ple ac­cess­ing ser­vices for the blind had lost their sight from pre­ventable causes. Ac­cord­ing to the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion, 75 per cent of the world’s blind­ness is pre­ventable. NZAO Op­tometrists want to en­sure that those who can avoid blind­ness do so by en­sur­ing their eye health is a pri­or­ity.

For eye con­di­tions that re­sult in blind­ness, early de­tec­tion can lead to bet­ter di­ag­no­sis, treat­ment and man­age­ment. The best way to find them ear­lier is by hav­ing reg­u­lar com­pre­hen­sive eye ex­am­i­na­tions.

Op­tometrists are reg­is­tered health prac­ti­tion­ers just like GPs, only they work ex­clu­sively with eyes.

Di­a­betes, Glau­coma, Mac­u­lar De­gen­er­a­tion and Cataract are the the main causes of im­paired vi­sion and all are in­creas­ing as the age of our pop­u­la­tion in­creases. There are also a num­ber of other dis­eases which may arise in the brain or other parts of the body which af­fect vi­sion, and these may hap­pen to young and old alike. Oc­u­lar melanoma or tu­mours near the op­tic nerves may be rel­a­tively un­com­mon, but they do hap­pen, and if they oc­cur then you want to find them early.

Brian Nay­lor says even peo­ple who have per­fect vi­sion as a child or young adult can find their eye­sight and eye health changes as they get older. Peo­ple with grad­ual loss or change in vi­sion can be most at risk be­cause they sim­ply do not re­alise what is hap­pen­ing to their eyes. Peo­ple who do not have com­pre­hen­sive eye ex­ams at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals may have un­de­tected eye con­di­tions that are slowly rob­bing them of sight – some changes may be ir­re­versible.

Risk fac­tors for eye dis­ease to keep in mind

Age Smok­ing High choles­terol Vas­cu­lar dis­ease Hav­ing im­me­di­ate fam­ily mem­bers who have AMD

Women ap­pear to be at greater risk than men.

Hav­ing a par­ent, brother or sis­ter with glau­coma Be­ing over 60 years old Be­ing of a spe­cific race: for pri­mary open an­gle glau­coma be­ing a African Amer­i­can; for an­gle clo­sure be­ing Inuit or Chi­nese

Hav­ing cer­tain med­i­cal con­di­tions: high blood pres­sure, di­a­betes, thy­roid dis­ease, or a history of mi­graine

Tak­ing steroids over a pro­longed pe­riod A history of eye in­jury In­juries that have in­volved sud­den blood loss

Be­ing my­opic (short sighted) for pri­mary open an­gle glau­coma; and be­ing hy­per­opic (long sighted) for an­gle clo­sure glau­coma.

Hav­ing di­a­betes Smok­ing Fre­quent ex­po­sure to UV

Reg­u­lar com­pre­hen­sive eye ex­ams are vi­tal.

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