23 March, 2021
Patients all over the world will acknowledge the vital role that Optometrists play in eye care on 23 March – World Optometry Day.
Optometrists are usually the first professional that a patient consults when they experience visual problems. Optometrists therefore have a crucial role in assessing the severity of a patients eye condition that need sometimes immediate referral to an Eye specialist.
In cases of retinal detachment and/or a new bleed in Neo-vascular Age related Macular Degeneration [n-AMD], their assessment and quick action is truly sight saving. In both these cases urgent referral to, and intervention by an Ophthalmologist may save a patients sight. A detaching retina has a very limited life without the blood and oxygen supplied by the underlying blood cells. In n-AMD an intraocular injection administered immediately has a better chance of arresting the damage done by the accumulation of blood and fluid in the retina.
Many other conditions may steal sight gradually and silently. This is certainly true in the case of Glaucoma. This condition is caused by a gradual increase in the pressures in the vitreous – the eyeball. This increase in pressure leads to retinal damage and in serious cases this is irreparable. By the time vision loss is noticed it is usually too late to intervene effectively. To avoid this serious condition regular visits to an Optometrists are required to monitor any dangerous changes in pressure.
“Retina South Africa recommends a visit to an Optometrist at least every 2 years for people over the age of 40” said Claudette Medefindt, head of science at Retina South Africa.
“Children should also have an eye examination before starting Grade 1. Refractive error can easily be corrected with prescription spectacles and yet this remains the single most unmet need in vision problems, worldwide”
Karen Denton, Head of Advocacy and Education at Retina South Africa added
“Because of the escalation in numbers of people developing diabetes in South Africa, the concomitant risk of severe damage to the retina and resultant loss of vision creates a massive problem for individuals – and for the State. Because it has been noted that 20% of people who are diagnosed with diabetes already have some retinal damage, this is yet another reason that annual eye checks are so essential for all people over forty”.
Retina South Africa honours the important role that Optometrists play in preserving vison and thanks the CEO of the Optometric Association of South Africa, Harry Rosen and his colleagues for their support in fighting retinal vision loss.