Every day, Warkworth optometrist Sally Adams looks into patients’ eyes searching for early signs of a condition known as the silent robber of sight.
Glaucoma is the leading cause of preventable blindness, which is why Sally and other optometrists are getting behind Glaucoma New Zealand’s annual appeal this month to raise awareness and fund research into the disease.
During July, optometrists, ophthalmologists and pharmacists will display Glaucoma NZ collection boxes seeking donations. The Mahurangi Vision Centre is donating $2 from every full eye examination carried out during July.
Glaucoma is an issue that hits home for Sally personally, having had several family members diagnosed with the condition.
“If every eye health professional in New Zealand supported this month it would really help spread the message about the importance of having eye examinations,” Sally says.
Sally says optometrists examine patients’ optic nerves for signs of glaucoma.
This is important because there are often no warning signs of glaucoma until it is quite advanced.
On the other hand, early detection and treatment pays off.
Someone with well-managed glaucoma will likely be able to drive and read 30 years after diagnosis.
“As optometrists, we are striving to detect glaucoma at the earliest opportunity. Advances in research, technology, like OCT scans, and the close working relationships we have with ophthalmologists, help us find those yet to be diagnosed,” she says.
She adds that updating the patient’s ophthalmologist and family doctor with regular vision reports is important, as glaucoma treatment benefits from a team approach.