Get your eyes checked

DEVELOPMENT: Glaucoma develops from pressure inside the eye from a blockage in the eye's drainage system. This damages the optic nerve.

DEVELOPMENT: Glaucoma develops from pressure inside the eye from a blockage in the eye's drainage system. This damages the optic nerve.

An Aussie rock legend has joined the fight this year to spread the word about the importance of eye examinations.

Kirk Pengilly, guitarist for INXS, is an ambassador for Glaucoma Australia this World Glaucoma Week. He almost lost his sight at the age of 29.

"In 1987, I came within an inch of losing my sight because of glaucoma," he said.

"Due to the severity of the disease, I was fast-tracked to a pioneering Australian ophthalmologist who quickly treated my deteriorating sight and prevented further damage to my vision. Until that point I had no idea what glaucoma was.

"When I got glaucoma it really hit home and I realised how important sight was to me - and, obviously, to everyone. As a result I'm certainly more aware of my eyes, my eye health and the importance of regular eye exams."

Glaucoma is an eye disease where vision is lost because of damage to the optic nerve. Generally there are no symptoms or early signs; it is a gradual loss of sight.

It is caused by fluid pressure inside the eye, which can cause progressive damage.

Glaucoma Australia CEO Annie Gibbins said Kirk's positive message about good eye health could help save your sight.

"Kirk's personal experience shows that glaucoma can affect anyone, and his passionate plea for Australian's to go and get their eyes tested will go a long way to increasing glaucoma awareness, early detection and intervention," she said.

According to Glaucoma Australia, the condition is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide, with it affecting more than 300,000 Australians.

Sadly, around 50 per cent of those with the condition are undiagnosed.

According to a national eye health survey conducted in 2016 nine in 10 Australian's say their sight in their most valued sense.

However one in three can't recall having an eye test in the last two years.

Who is at risk?

The National Health and Medical Research Council while people over 50 with a family history are at risk, anyone can be affected. Risk factors include:

  • A family history
  • High eye pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Myopia (nearsighted)
  • Prolonged use of steroid medication
  • Migraines
  • Eye operations or injury

Eye checks

The best way to detect glaucoma is by visiting an eye health professional.

A regular eye examination usually involves a screening for glaucoma and can indicate if further examination is needed. Early detection is important, as glaucoma blindness cannot be reversed, but treatment can save what vision remains.

Learn more by visiting think.glaucoma.org.au.

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