Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Only 38 years old and risking blindness

May is vision health month. So it is appropriate that Global News did a story on the six o'clock news on Victoria Day highlighting the dangers of getting automated sight tests from opticians rather than a comprehensive eye exam from a doctor of optometry. You are risking blindness.

Eye exams by a doctor of optometry assess the health of your eye and its component parts like the optic nerve. This is only way to diagnose glaucoma and other diseases early enough to prevent permanent vision loss.

Jason Inman was getting automated sight tests from an optician for years. He thought he was too young to need an eye exam from an eye doctor. He was wrong and and tragic consequence was permanent vision loss.

In his interview he talks about having a permanent smudge in his vision. This will likely never go away. For his eyes to get this bad, he must have suffered severe and permanent vision loss. Going by what he said in his interview, he is probably barely legal to drive, if is he is legal at all.

The good news is that now that he has gone to his optometrist, his disease is diagnosed and can be treated and the progression can be halted. The tragedy, of course, is that if he just visited his optometrist regularly he would not have suffered permanent vision loss. The thing that makes glaucoma so dangerous is that the person with the disease will not know that he has it until serious vision loss has already occurred.

It is true that this blog emphasizes glaucoma and eye exams but everyone out there needs to take their health seriously and be proactive and you need to see the eye doctor regularly. The consequences are just not worth it.

Another point is that BC's eye care regulations are obviously not rational if they allow automated sight testing because people are being lulled into a false sense of security regarding their health. Like Jason Inman said in his interview, he really did not think about whether his eye health was being looked after. That is understandable. In this busy world we often don't have time to think about our health. That is why we have doctors to look after us. I think that many people are just like Jason Inman. But I hope that they don't suffer the same consequences.