Redfern local, Beryl Ford, was diagnosed with glaucoma at 53 years old. She’d lost her glasses and inevitably visited her optometrist for a new pair when she stumbled across a terrifying diagnosis of glaucoma.
“I didn’t know anything about glaucoma, or anyone with glaucoma. There was a loneliness and an isolation I felt when I first got diagnosed. Although today there are over 300,000 patients Australia-wide, it proves there were others out there, just maybe not diagnosed. Due to this lucky comedy of errors, my early diagnosis saved my vision. Having regular checks and maintaining my eye drops have allowed me to live a relatively normal life.”
Beryl is sharing her story in support of Glaucoma Australia’s new fundraising initiative 7 Sights in 7 Days Challenge. The challenge encourages Australians to share a photo of an amazing sight every day for seven days to raise funds to help end glaucoma blindness this World Glaucoma Week (March 6–12, 2022).
Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide. The disease affects 300,000 Australians, with 50 per cent unaware that they have the disease because they haven’t had a comprehensive eye exam. There is no cure for glaucoma and vision loss is irreversible, making early detection and treatment key to saving sight.
Glaucoma Australia CEO Annie Gibbins says, “Anyone can develop glaucoma and the risk increases with age. About 1 in 10,000 babies are born with glaucoma; by age 40 about 1 in 200 have glaucoma, rising to 1 in 8 at age 80. The inaugural 7 Sights in 7 Days Challenge is amplifying that sight-saving message by asking the community to get creative and fundraise so that we can take glaucoma out of the picture.”
Associate Professor Ashish Agar, Glaucoma Specialist and President of the Australian Society of Ophthalmologists, says regular eye checks are pivotal to early detection of glaucoma and its related vision loss.
“The results of recent research might surprise you. The visual field defects are complex, and patients don’t notice the gradual change in vision. The brain is very clever at hiding peripheral vision loss which is why the disease can sneak up on you. Having check-ups is crucial to every Australian’s eye health, especially those with a family history of glaucoma.”
To find out how to register for the 7 Sights in 7 Days Challenge or to sponsor someone who is snapping, visit: sevensights.org.au
Glaucoma Australia provides sight-saving education, support, and advocacy to people with glaucoma and their families as well as funding ground-breaking research. By raising awareness Glaucoma Australia is helping people with glaucoma get detected early and adhere to their treatment management plan to prevent irreversible sight loss and improve their quality of life.