A woman’s routine eye test took a shocking turn after she discovered she was suffering from a condition that causes blindness.
About three months ago Elaine Blumgart, from Randwick in Sydney’s east, visited her optometrist for a check-up to see if she needed a stronger prescription on her glasses.
But she soon discovered she had glaucoma in her right eye, a debilitating disease that slowly causes blindness and is usually too far gone before any symptoms surface.
“I didn’t know anything was wrong with my eyes,” Ms Blumgart told Yahoo News.
“I had no symptoms and it could have eventually developed in the left eye.”
Ms Blumgart was one of the lucky ones, and it was caught early enough before her eyesight started deteriorating. She underwent laser eye surgery to regulate pressure on the eye caused by glaucoma.
“I’m trying not to think about what could have happened. It’s an ugly prospect of horrible things happening. It can develop into something awful,” she said.
“I’m very lucky. That’s what makes it scary – people would never even dream they would have something like this as was the case with me not having any symptoms.”
‘It gradually creeps in on you’
Optometry director at Specsavers Mount Druitt, Janet McDonald, told Yahoo News glaucoma was a disease of the optic nerve that increased pressure on the eyeball and it sneaks up on you if you don’t notice it.
“We routinely check for the signs of somebody having glaucoma through a normal eye test,” she said.
Ms McDonald said there were 300,000 people in Australia with glaucoma who did not know they had it.
According to Glaucoma Australia, approximately 10 per cent of those who receive proper treatment for the disease will still experience significant loss of vision.
“It gradually creeps in on you until you end up with tunnel vision,” Ms McDonald said.
“People can get the quite severe disease without realising it. They think if they are stumbling a bit more they might be getting old, or discount it to other things rather than think they need their eyes tested.”
Ms McDonald said everybody should be having their eyes tested at least every two years, as once glaucoma begins to deteriorate eyesight there’s no way of getting it back.
Research conducted by Specsavers found 10 million people in Australia and New Zealand were not getting regular eye checks.
People who have relatives with glaucoma have a one in four chance of getting it too and it is most common in people over the age of 50.
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