Simple $60 eye exam saves Amberley mother's sight

Allison Smith says a $60 eye exam was the best appointment she ever made after it revealed she was suffering from glaucoma.
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Allison Smith says a $60 eye exam was the best appointment she ever made after it revealed she was suffering from glaucoma.

Today marks the end of World Glaucoma Week and with it comes a message about the importance of regular eye examinations.

Mother of two Allison Smith was recently diagnosed with the eye disease at the age of just 46.

Smith, general manager of a marketing company, said she decided to have an eye exam at her local Specsavers in Rangiora because of her strong family history of glaucoma, which is hereditary.

Her father and all his seven brothers suffered from the disease and he had been urging her to get her eyes tested for some time, she said.

READ MORE: * Glaucoma: the silent thief of sight

Smith said she was also finding it harder to read, was getting tired more easily and was suffering from headaches.

Cheap reading glasses were not working and one eye in particular was getting worse and worse.

"I just didn't feel right, I felt out of sorts," she said.

"I don't usually get headaches and I was rubbing my eyes constantly."

Now she has the diagnosis she is planning to research he condition as she wants to have as much information as possible to help her own children monitor their eye health.

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While she admits it took her longer than it should have to go for the eye exam, now that she's had it, she is urging her extended family and wider public to have an eye exam.

"$60 is a small price to pay when the results can change your life.

"Glaucoma can be nipped in the bud if treated early enough and I would urge anyone to have an eye exam for peace of mind."

While vision loss from glaucoma is irreversible, it can be treated to prevent it worsening, with eye drops, pills, laser surgery, traditional surgery or a combination of methods.

Smith's father, who was diagnosed many years ago, still has his sight and at 87 still has a driving licence.

"He is religious about his eye drops and I'll probably have to use them for the rest of my life but I don't mind if I can keep my eyesight.

"It's the best appointment I ever made."

World Glaucoma Day was launched in 2008 by the World Glaucoma Association and the World Glaucoma Patient Association and its expansion with World Glaucoma Week launched in 2010.

The number of people (aged 40-80 years) with glaucoma worldwide was estimated at 64.3 million in 2013, and is expected to increase to 76.0 million in 2020.

 - Stuff

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