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No Replays - When Eyesight's Gone, It's gone

10 June 2016 | Updated 01 January 1970

National Glaucoma Awareness Week (6-12 June 2016) saw Kim Champion from Maltby near Rotherham urging others not to take their sight for granted after routine eye tests at Vision Express recognised her as being at risk of the eye condition, which can cause blindness.

Although 46-year-old Kim had no prior symptoms, regular checks at her local Vision Express in Rotherham twice revealed the presence of eye conditions that can lead to glaucoma.

Kim said: “I’ve had reading glasses for about 15 years so I make optical appointments at least annually in case my prescription needs to be changed. In the last five years, two of my visits to Vision Express found that I had separate eye conditions but I hadn’t even realised there was anything wrong on both occasions.

“I didn’t have any pain, my eyes didn’t look or feel any differently and the quality of my sight hadn’t deteriorated. I had no reason to think there was any kind of problem with my eye health until I was tested.”


Ocular hypertension

Kim’s first diagnosis came five years ago when an optometrist told her she had high eye pressure. Also known as ocular hypertension, the condition meant that she had an elevated pressure inside of her eye. If the signs hadn’t been spotted - leaving Kim untreated - she would have faced an increased chance of developing glaucoma and a gradual loss of her sight.

Kim said: “I hadn’t heard of high eye pressure before so I didn’t know what it meant or what would be next. My optometrist was really helpful and put me at ease by explaining the situation and what I could expect from treatment.” Following the diagnosis, Vision Express immediately made arrangements for Kim to be referred to a specialist eye clinic at Rotherham General Hospital.

Last year, another routine check-up showed Kim had narrow angles, a different eye condition indicative of glaucoma. She explained: “If it wasn’t for having my regular check, I would have been none the wiser and my eye health could have suffered.

“I can’t stress how important it is to go for regular test. If my experiences are anything to go by, it proves that you can’t just assume your eyes are fine - don’t wait to be prompted by something out of the ordinary to get checked.”

Kim is now under the regular care of a consultant to monitor her conditions. She added: “I would hate to lose my sight. You only get one pair of eyes so it’s important to look after them.”

Dr Rosemary Leonard, the GP known to millions as a TV health expert and author echoed the importance of regular eye tests: “As with so many things in health you only really appreciate something when you are losing it or when it is gone, and that applies particularly to your sight.

"There are effective treatments available for glaucoma and catching it early can have a hugely beneficial impact on the longer term effects - nine out of ten people who are diagnosed early retain useable sight for life."

Glaucoma is the name given to a group of eye conditions in which the main nerve to the eye (the optic nerve) is damaged where it leaves the eye. This nerve carries information about what is being seen from the eye to the brain and, as it becomes damaged, vision is lost. There are an estimated 600,000 people with glaucoma in the UK, but 300,000 are undiagnosed.

Russell Young, CEO International Glaucoma Association, commented: “With an estimated 300,000 people living with undetected glaucoma in the UK today, it is vital that we do more to reach at risk groups including anyone over the age of 40, close blood relatives of people with glaucoma and African-Caribbbeans.”

Picture: (L-R) Vision Express store director Melanie McKee, Kim Champion and assistant store manager Mandy Griffiths

Article written by Cathryn Ellis | Published 10 June 2016


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