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Kiwis urged to make eye health checks a regular event

September 2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Kiwis urged to make eye health checks a regular event

The New Zealand Association of Optometrists (NZAO) is urging New Zealanders to have their eye health checked on a regular basis, in order to detect diseases like glaucoma, cataracts and age-related macular degeneration – all of which are treatable if caught early, but if left can cause severe vision loss, or even blindness.

NZAO executive director Dr Lesley Frederikson says: “It’s an absolute tragedy that 20 percent of New Zealanders accessing services for the blind have lost their sight from preventable causes. Much like a dental check-up or breast screening, which we know are absolutely vital, comprehensive eye exams should happen at regular intervals. They are quick and painless, and could be the difference between longterm eye health and blindness.”

According to Dr Frederikson, people who have always had perfect eyesight are often the most at risk, as deterioration in eye health is gradual, and can manifest itself in unexpected ways, such as migraines, or be dismissed as a natural part of aging.

Many common eye diseases don’t have any warning signs, and can only be detected by an optometrist. Combine that with the fact that these people are not in the habit of having regular eye checks, and the results can be dire.

Since 2002, the NZAO’s Save our Sight campaign (25 August – 12 September 2014) has been bringing awareness to eye health, and the importance of regular eye exams. To book your 9-step comprehensive eye exam with an NZAO optometrist, visit www.saveoursight.co.nz today.

Eye Health and New Zealanders:
-- More than 70,000 New Zealanders aged 40+ have glaucoma. At least half do not know they have it. Untreated, glaucoma will cause loss of sight.

-- 20% of New Zealanders accessing services for the blind have lost their sight from preventable causes.

-- A 9-step comprehensive eye exam is a painless procedure in which an optometrist examines your eyes to look for common vision problems and eye diseases, many of which have no early warning signs. It takes about 45 minutes, and your optometrist will advise on how frequently each person should have one.

-- Even people who have perfect vision as a child or young adult can find their eyesight and eye health deteriorates as they get older.

The 9-step Comprehensive Eye Exam
1. medical history
2. external eye
3. slit-lamp examination
4. internal eye including macula
5. colour perception
6. glaucoma
7. visual functions
8. eye muscles
9. visual fields
Fact sheets on cataracts, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma,
diabetes-related retinopathy, and eye injuries available on request.

ENDS

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