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World Glaucoma Awareness Week

Monday, 8 March 2010

How a simple eye test can save your eyesight...

It's World Glaucoma Awareness Week and because there are no symptoms of Glaucoma it's important to be aware that you could have it and not realize.

Who Is The Guest?
. Elaine McGovern, Specsavers Optometrist
. Peter McAvoy

Glaucoma, what is it?
Increased eye pressure at the front of the eye, which damages the back of the eye and essentially the optic nerve, which, when damaged, will lead to loss of peripheral vision (patient will be left only with tunnel vision)

What is tunnel vision?
Having no vision in the side of your eyes, so a sufferer can only see in front of them, as though they are looking through a tunnel or a hole.

What are the symptoms?
Worryingly there are rarely any symptoms of this condition, however there are also very few risk factors, so the main thing is that everyone gets their eyes tested.
Peter had symptoms because he was at an advanced level. At this level there is a possibility (but not guaranteed) of symptoms such as:-

- Red eyes
- Sore eyes
- Blurred vision

Blurred vision does not mean constantly, it is intermittent, which means that it can happen at different times of the day i.e. when driving, reading etc.

Are there any risk factors?

Age:- 40+
Family History

Does bad eyesight have anything to do with getting glaucoma?
No, it is a separate condition from anything to do with vision, however people who have no vision problems would tend not to go for an eye test.

What test needs to be done?
A simple general eye test in an opticians will have the pressure test used to detect the condition with Peter.

There is no method of prevention other than awareness.

Can it be treated?
Damage done to the optic nerve is irreparable, but all cases, no matter how advanced or early they are should be treated to prevent any further damage. Treatment is either in the form of drops, as in Peter's case, or in some cases eye surgery.

Is this a typical case?
No, Peter was very lucky to have symptoms, and the fact is that anyone can get this condition and tunnel vision can be a very serious consequence for someone to live with, and it is irreversible, so it's important for someone who hasn't been for an eye test, or who may have had a family history to get checked.

Additional / Misc' Info:
Approximately 60,000 Irish people are thought to currently suffer from the condition.
THOUSANDS of people in Ireland could be risking their sight by unknowingly suffering from glaucoma, the second largest cause of unnecessary blindness in the world.

Those over 40 are particularly at risk, but if diagnosed early enough through a simple eye examination, the condition can be effectively managed. Specsavers is urging the over 40s in Ireland to have regular eye examinations to detect the onset of glaucoma and the stores will be lending their support to World Glaucoma Day on Friday 12 March, by offering complimentary eyecare advice.

Most people associate an eye test with getting a new pair of specs or renewing their prescription, but few would associate an eye test with the ability to save your vision. One such person is Peter McAvoy, who, thanks to a visit to Specsavers in Mullingar, is grateful to still have sight in his left eye.

Mr McAvoy, a 43-year-old from Mullingar, Co Westmeath, had been experiencing foggy vision in his left eye since Christmas 2008. He had previously been for eye tests and nothing had been found, so began thinking that he would just have to live with blurred sight. Eventually, Peter's wife convinced him to have another eye examination at the Specsavers store in 11 Pearse Street, Mullingar. Finally, in August 2009, Mr McAvoy made his appointment.

Elaine McGovern, store director of Specsavers in Mullingar, who has more than xx years experience in eyecare, undertook the eye examination. Following Mr McAvoy's description of his problem, she administered a pressure test using puffs of air. The results suggested signs of glaucoma, so she referred him to an eye specialist centre, in the Ballinderry Clinic.

Ms McGovern comments: 'When I noticed the level of pressure in Mr McAvoy's eyes, I became concerned that there could be a serious, underlying health condition such as Glaucoma. Time is always of the essence when detecting abnormalities so I immediately referred him to an eye specialist in Ballinderry Clinic for a diagnosis.

On arrival at the clinic, Mr McAvoy underwent a 'field of vision' test which revealed he was indeed a sufferer of glaucoma, confirming Ms McGovern's initial concerns. The severity of the glaucoma was high and Peter received a specific type of eye drop containing steroids that reduced the pressure in his eye and controls the condition.

Alarmed by the discovery, Mr McAvoy reflects: 'I was utterly shocked that the fogginess in my left eye that I had been experiencing was a symptom of such a serious condition. I owe my sight to the swift action of Ms McGovern and her team at Specsavers in Mullingar. I have since been informed that glaucoma is a hereditary condition and now my siblings and their children have also been for eye tests and will continue to do so regularly. '

Ms McGovern concludes: 'Mr McAvoy's case reiterates Specsavers' advice that people should have their eyes tested at least every two years. Not only can an eye examination monitor your sight, it can also detect diseases and serious health problems. The main message to highlight for World Glaucoma Week, in light of Mr McAvoy's case, is that eye tests are essential for both your sight and general health.

To book an appointment, call into Specsavers, 11 Pearse Street, Mullingar or call 04490038. You can also log onto