Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in Australia and ahead of World Glaucoma Week (11-17 March), Specsavers optometrists are calling out to the community to book in for an eye test, as early detection is key to combatting the disease.
In the last 12 months, Specsavers has detected over 85,000i patients with sight threatening conditions requiring the attention of a specialist. Over 17,000 of these cases are patients at risk of glaucoma. These findings serve a reminder to all Australians to have their eyes tested at least once every two years as recommended by optometrists at Specsavers.
Glaucoma Australia Board Member and Head of Optometry at Specsavers, Ben Ashby says “These figures are a result of Specsavers-wide data and provide us with the evidence-base to show how we are closing the gap on undiagnosed glaucoma in Australia.
“That sort of information has not been available before and adds value because it allows us to specify the impact we are making on patient wellbeing.”
It is estimated that currently there are 300,000ii Australians living with glaucoma, and of those, over 50% are unaware they have it, thinking they have healthy eyes.
Ben Ashby says “Glaucoma is often nicknamed the ‘silent thief of sight’ because it has little to no obvious symptoms and sight is lost at such a gradual pace, it often goes unnoticed until it’s too late.”
Added to the concern of eye health professionals is that 10 millioniii Australians are still not having regular eye tests despite a growing awareness that an undetected eye health condition can have an irreversible affect on a person’s sight.
CEO of Glaucoma Australia, Annie Gibbins says “The patient data released by Specsavers is world first and reinforces the need for regular comprehensive eye examinations. Driving a new culture
of eye health awareness is the key to eliminating glaucoma blindness. Early diagnosis and treatment adherence can literally save your sight."
Ben Ashby says “Glaucoma is hereditary and the risk increases up to 10 times if a family member has the disease. First degree relatives of a person with glaucoma have an almost 1 in 4 chance of developing glaucoma in their lifetime, so knowing your family health is important.
“Glaucoma is more prominent in older Australians and with an ageing population, regular eye checks are crucial to prevent any further loss of vision.
“The good news is that if glaucoma is detected in the preliminary stages, treatment is simple and effective for the majority of patients. That’s why ahead of World Glaucoma Week, we’re encouraging all Australians to book in for an eye check, as it could save your sight”, Ben adds.
At Specsavers, eye tests are bulk-billed and use OCT 3D optical imaging technology or Digital Retinal Photography that allows optometrists to take a photo of the back of the eye and map any changes over time.
Throughout World Glaucoma Week ( March 11th – 17th, 2018) Specsavers will raise funds for awareness, detection, diagnosis, support and research by making a donation to Glaucoma Australia every time an eye test is conducted in store.
i Specsavers-wide Oculo data January 2017 – January 2018
ii Glaucoma Australia
iii Independent research by Galaxy, commissioned by Specsavers which captured 1,000 responses of Australians aged over 18 years old in February 2017