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Joining forces for Lions World Sight Day

LIONS WORLD SIGHT DAY
Thursday, 10 October 2002

Sponsored by OPSM and Visique

MEDIA RELEASE Monday 7 October, 2002


OPSM and Visique join forces for Lions World Sight Day

Lions World Sight Day sponsors, OPSM and Visique are working with Lions Clubs New Zealand to build awareness of the importance of regular eye tests for early detection of eye problems and diseases. Lions World Sight Day was launched by Lions Clubs International in 1998 to educate the world about preventable and reversible blindness and the importance of proper eye care.

All New Zealanders, whether they have a known eye condition or not, should get their eyes examined by an optometrist every two years or as recommended by their optometrist. Astonishingly, blindness was preventable for at least one fifth of all the people registered with the Royal Foundation for the Blind in New Zealand.

“You need to get your eyes examined regularly, not just to test your vision but to check for eye conditions and diseases like glaucoma, which often have no symptoms,” says Diane McAteer, General Manager of Visique. “Early treatment is absolutely critical to catch eye diseases in their early stages when treatment and management is more successful and before permanent damage is done.”

Eye care messages are particularly important for two groups: people over forty, as the risk of eye diseases and conditions increase with age; and children, because poor vision can limit their ability to learn, read and play sport and often children don’t recognise they have vision problems.

OPSM recommend that children’s eyes are examined before they start school to identify and treat any problems.

“A few of the signs that your child is suffering from vision problems are: holding books very closely; tilting the head, covers or closes one eye when reading or writing; complains of headaches, tiredness or discomfort when reading or writing; and complains of not seeing clearly and not being able to see or copy things from the board,” says Donald Klaassen, Optometrist and Professional Services Manager at OPSM.

Concerns over good eye care are rising as ever more New Zealanders face the threat of blindness, particularly in the advent of the diabetes epidemic. There are 115,000 people in New Zealand with diagnosed diabetes, while as many again have diabetes and do not know it. These people are at greater risk of developing diabetic eye disease, or diabetic retinopathy, the leading cause of preventable blindness in New Zealand. Early detection and timely treatment, however, can substantially reduce the risk of severe visual loss or blindness from diabetic eye disease.

Each District Health Board is running a registered and free retinal screening service to test people for diabetic retinopathy. People can access this service through their general practitioner or health professional.

Lions World Sight Day is this Thursday 10 October. To mark Lions World Sight Day, OPSM stores and Visique practices around the country are collecting unused eye glasses and sunglasses from Monday 7 October to Sunday 13 October. The glasses will be recycled and distributed to areas in New Zealand by Lions Clubs and the South Pacific by Voluntary Ophthalmic Service Overseas (VOSO).

(ends)

For further information contact: Jessica Garland: 021 445 263

Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest service club organisation, with 1.4 million members in 190 countries and territories around the world. In New Zealand there are 500 clubs with nearly 13,000 members. Lions Clubs throughout the country have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars and hours in improving conditions for their local communities. Worldwide the organisation has shown a strong commitment to preserving sight, promoting health, overcoming disabilities and serving youth.

OPSM is now one of the worlds leading eyecare and eyewear groups with over 600 outlets here in New Zealand, in Australia and across Asia. “Our group is 70 years strong this year, and to celebrate we hope to give those less privileged than ourselves a gift they will never forget. Your eyes are so important, and if we can help those people see better when they can't afford full eyecare, we are only too happy to help Lions to help them,” says John Gimpel, OPSM's NZ General Manager. OPSM stores are conveniently located all over New Zealand, and you can contact OPSM on 0800 696 776, or at www.opsm.com.au.

Visique is a national network of 74 independent optometrists committed to providing the best eye health care and eyewear solutions in New Zealand. As part of this commitment Visique is dedicated to educating New Zealander’s about the importance of taking care of their eyes to ensure healthy eyes and good vision for life. Visique Optometrists have been involved with Lion’s World Sight Day for the past two years. For your nearest Visique Optometrist call 0800 VISIQUE or www.visique.co.nz.

Spokespeople
LWSD Coordinator Lions Clubs New Zealand Chief Executive
Jessica Garland Ron Lawrence
Tel: 021 445 263 Tel: 04 384 7559
jessica.garland@networkpr.com lionsmd202@clear.net.nz

Mr Donald Klaassen
Optometrist and Professional Services Manager, OPSM
021 958677

Adrian Paterson Paul Rose Jonathan Foate
Visique, Waikato Visique, Waikato Visique, Christchurch
07 839 3072 07 847 3195 03 366 0545

Andrew Sangster
Chairperson, NZ Association of Optometrists Council
Wellington
04 472 4010

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