Find it before it blinds
About 300,000 Australians have glaucoma yet half of these don't know they have the potentially blinding disease.
Further, it's estimated that the ageing of the population will see this figure increase by 40 per cent to 420,000 in 2025, at a cost to the community of $4.3 billion a year.
Glaucoma has a strong genetic connection. If an individual has a first degree relative with glaucoma then this person has a 10-fold increased risk of themselves developing this condition.
Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness throughout the world, says Professor David Mackey, Managing Director of the Lions Eye Institute in Western Australia.
Treatment options currently available are successful in delaying progression of glaucoma. However if vision has already been affected prior to seeking medical advice, treatment options cannot restore vision which has already been lost.
Early diagnosis of glaucoma is the key to maintaining sight and is a focus point for many researches Australia wide.
Professor Mackey, states that Australian research has identified some genes that increase the risk of glaucoma. We are continuing to look for more to complete the picture.
A recent study, where Professor Mackey was involved, also demonstrated that testing close relatives of people with glaucoma may be a way for early detection and treatment.
Patients with glaucoma were asked to invite their first degree relatives to participate in the study. Six percent of participants had already been diagnosed with Glaucoma. This study was successful in identifying and additional 5% with signs of glaucoma which required prompt referral and treatment. An additional 15% were also found to have suspicious signs of the developing condition.
Professor Mackey and his colleagues believe this model of testing first degree relatives could be successful in reducing glaucoma blindness, due to its early detection on undiagnosed glaucoma in high risk patients, however further investigations is required.
Thursday 13th October is World Sight Day, Australians who are 40 years or over, with a family history of glaucoma, are being urged to book an eye test and encourage others to do the same.
Sharpening the focus on Australia's eye health
175,000 Australians at risk of diabetes-related blindness
A large number of Australians are at risk of losing their sight due to a common complication of diabetes.
Researchers at the Centre for Eye Research Australia have found that 35 per cent of diabetic Australians don’t have regular eye tests, putting themselves at risk of vision loss and blindness from diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of vision impairment and anyone with type 1 or type 2 diabetes is at risk of developing the disease.
Health Services Unit head Associate Professor Ecosse Lamoureux said vision loss caused by diabetic retinopathy can be prevented by regular screening and treatment.
"Research shows that around 17 per cent of patients with diabetes have undetected diabetic retinopathy," Associate Professor Lamoureux said.
"We're looking at new ways to incorporate an eye check when patients receive other pathology health checks," he said.
"Our research shows that more than 90 per cent of Australians would take advantage of this model if it was available."
Approximately 300,000 Australians have some degree of diabetic retinopathy and around 65,000 have sight-threatening diabetic retinopathy.
People with diabetes are advised to have their eyes tested by an optometrist or ophthalmologist every two years.
Thursday 13 October 2011 is World Sight Day. The Lions Eye Health Program (LEHP) Australia encourages diabetic patients to have their eyes tested during the month of October.
For more information on diabetic retinopathy visit the LEHP website www.lehp.org.au.
LIONS EYE HEALTH PROGRAM-AUSTRALIA PID Dr Bob Coulthard Recognition Award
Dr Bob Coulthard is one of the best known and respected members of our organisation in Australia and Overseas.
“Dr Bob” as he is fondly referred to, is an unequalled source of information on the International scene having been a regular at Conventions, forums and similar gatherings since the mid 80’s.