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Eye Care for New Zealanders - Fact Sheet

Lions World Sight Day

Eye Care for New Zealanders - Fact Sheet

1. Getting your eyes examined regularly by an optometrist (every two years or as recommended by your optometrist) is the key to preventing or reducing serious damage to the eye and blindness.

- Eye examinations screen for conditions related directly to eye health and can detect diseases that may not be visible or felt by the person. For example, optometrists can often detect the earliest signs of undiagnosed diabetes as part of a routine eye examination.

- A change in vision may be normal but it could also be an indication of a more serious problem.

- Diabetes, Glaucoma, and age related macular degeneration are rising to epidemic proportions - with the numbers of people threatened by blindness expected to double over the next 30 years.

- Treatments are available for most eye diseases and conditions. Most conditions can be managed, but sight already lost may not be able to be restored - making regular checks, early diagnosis and treatment vital.

- One of the most common causes of preventable blindness in New Zealand, Glaucoma, often has no symptoms until permanent and irreversible damage is done. The only way to detect Glaucoma and some other serious diseases is by an eye examination.

2. The risk of eye diseases and conditions increases with age

- If your over forty you should get your eyes examined at least every two years (or as recommended by your optometrist).

- Cataracts and glaucoma are common conditions affecting older people.

- Presbyopia is a condition that occurs as part of the natural ageing process - when the lens of the eye becomes less flexible making it increasingly difficult to focus on close objects. Corrective lenses are usually used to correct this condition.

- Many people over the age of seventy have some macular degeneration and people with diabetes and medical conditions require more attention to maintain good vision and healthy eyes.

3. Get your children’s eyes checked before they start school

- Recent surveys suggest that more than 18% of New Zealand primary school children have a vision problem.

- Vision problems can limit children’s ability to learn, read and play sport.

- A young child may not complain that they don’t see well, especially if their vision has always been poor, as they do not realise that others see more clearly.

- Common signs of that may indicate vision problems include:

- Complains they can’t see or copy things from the board at school.

- Holds book very close and avoids near work as much as possible.

- Covers or closes one eye while reading or writing.

- Has a short attention span.

- Complains of headaches, discomfort or tiredness.

4. Wear protective eyewear

- New Zealanders need to protect their eyes from harmful UV rays, just as they do their skin, to prevent cataracts and premature ageing in the eyes.

- Fair people (particularly blondes and redheads) are more sensitive to harmful UV rays.

- Wearing a good quality and well-fitting pair of sunglasses (lenses that cut 100% if UV radiation) outdoors and while snowboarding or skiing can help maintain life-long eye health.


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