Winter is upon us, it's the 1st of July and it's the month that Glaucoma NZ has its annual awareness month. As always, we have a donation box on the front counter, where you can exchange $3 for a Glaucoma NZ pen. And there's always the latest copy of "Eyelights" in the waiting room.
Glaucoma is called the "silent thief of sight" and the latest research is that 68,000 NZers have the disease but half of these are undiagnosed. This is a huge worry, because it does cause permanent blindness if left untreated. And this is preventable blindness, because it can be treated if caught early enough.
As part of your regular eye examination, we take your eye pressures and look closely at the optic discs, where the optic nerves leave the eyes to go up to the brain. If either of these tests looks suspicious, or if there is a family history of glauoma, we will do an automated peripheral vision test, which can rule out glaucoma or track any suspicious changes. (If you develop the disease, the periperal vision or visual field test is the way to determine if the treatment is working as it monitors if there is any loss of vision in the peripheral part of the visual field).
Everyone with a family history of glaucoma should have an exam at least every two years, and if we see suspicious changes to the pressures or the optic discs, we will tell you and see you more frequently.
Most studies show that people are more afraid of getting cancer or going blind than anything else. At least glaucoma blindness can be prevented if the diease is detected early.
For glaucoma awareness month, do yourself and your family a favour - have a visual examination.