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Don’t let COVID-19 stop you seeing well into the future

When Rachel Walsh booked herself in for an eye check after not having done one for over 20 years, she got an unpleasant surprise. 

“I’m at the age where you start noticing that it’s getting more difficult to read, so I thought I better go and get my eyes checked,” Rachel said. 

“I ended up being diagnosed with suspected primary angle closure glaucoma. Glaucoma is a major cause of blindness worldwide. It was a pretty big shock. I’m so glad I had that eye check and it was picked up early.” 

A recent survey commissioned by Queensland Health found that less than half of all Queenslanders - 45 per cent – reported having an eye check in the year to August 2020. Twenty-seven per cent of those aged18-34, 45 per cent of those aged 35-64, and 72 per cent of those over 65 reported having had an eye check that year.

“I’d noticed a few minor things like seeing halos and lights when I went into dark places – particularly when I went to the movies but wasn’t that worried about them. 

Primary angle closure glaucoma can result from issues with the drainage structures of the eye. When the fluid cannot drain out normally, it can cause the pressure inside the back of the eye to rise. This can damage the optic nerve and cause permanent irreversible vision loss. Sometimes this pressure rise can happen quite suddenly and unexpectedly, which is very dangerous to the eye.

“The doctor explained that although unlikely, if the angle closure effect happens, the damage can be quick and irreversible, and that was not a risk I was prepared to take, so I decided to get it treated. 

“They did a procedure called laser peripheral iridotomy on both eyes."

Laser peripheral iridotomy uses a laser to make a tiny hole in the iris, which creates a kind of ‘safety valve’, allowing the fluid in the eye to flow if the drainage system becomes blocked due to angle closure.

“Now I’ve had the procedure I’ll have a check with the doctor to make sure it was effective, and then I don’t need to worry about it.

“If you haven’t had your eyes checked recently due to COVID-19 or for other reasons, think about getting it done soon,” Rachel said. 

Just like getting regular dental, skin, and blood pressure checks, eye checks should form part of your scheduled health checks. 

ENDS

Last updated: 29 October 2020