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Innovative vision care technology allows early detection

Kiwis fear losing vision - Innovative vision care technology allows early detection of vision loss and disease

New Zealanders fear losing their vision above memory, hair and even the ability to walk, nationwide research conducted on behalf of eye care provider OPSM reveals.

Despite this, 55 per cent of us say we'd get our eyes checked only if eyesight starts deteriorating, rather than every two years as recommended by optometrists.

The independent survey of more than 1,000 New Zealanders coincides with the completion of a national rollout of Digital Retinal Scanners (DRS) to 46 OPSM stores nationwide.

The innovative vision care technology provides a telling picture of the retina, optic nerve and blood vessels, which can be used to help detect potentially serious vision issues and suspected disease.

"The eyes are more than just windows to the soul," says OPSM National Eyecare Manager Matt Whiting. "They tell health experts a great deal about a person's overall wellbeing and can lead to early detection of glaucoma, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, age-related macular degeneration as well as some forms of cancer."

The survey found less than 35 per cent of respondents were aware hypertension, cardiovascular disease and some forms of cancer could be detected through an eye test and more than a third believe there is nothing that can be done about worsening vision.

"The fact more than a third of New Zealanders believe there is nothing that can be done about deteriorating vision is disheartening," says Mr Whiting.

"In addition to regular eye checks, a retinal scan allows the optometrist to deliver a more in depth health assessment for the customer and empower them to increase their education and awareness of eye health. The picture can also be retained to help monitor changes over a prolonged period".

"To be able to see is an absolute human need. But it's a very emotional subject and one we often put off or avoid altogether. New Zealanders need to lift their knowledge and awareness around the importance of looking after their eyes and understand they are intrinsically linked to overall wellbeing," says Mr Whiting.

"As fully trained healthcare professionals, it's our job to look after the complete health of people's eyes. Most blindness and vision loss is preventable if detected early, so the importance of retinal scanning technology cannot be underestimated".

A digital retinal scan is entirely safe and requires only a few minutes in addition to a standard eye test at a cost of $40.

To find out more about OPSM and services offered, visit www.opsm.co.nz or call 0800 696 776.

1 Buzz Channel Survey, June 2011

ENDS

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