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Glaucoma Australia
March 2024

When medical practice manager Debra was told she had glaucoma and had lost some peripheral vision, she was confused and devastated as she knew this was going to impact her life.

Debra Lillecrapp

Glaucoma is a leading cause of preventable blindness worldwide. It is estimated that over 300,000 Australians have glaucoma, yet 50% of people don’t know they have it. While vision loss due to glaucoma can’t be restored, early diagnosis and treatment can slow or stop the progression of the disease. This is why early detection is key.  Glaucoma is largely a genetic disease so knowing your family history is important.

“My glaucoma diagnosis came as a complete shock.  I didn’t know my father and it’s always been an unknown factor in life. With no glaucoma recorded on my mother’s side, my dad’s side is where it most likely came from.  It’s so important that you find out your history to ensure you are diligent with getting your eyes checked.  I had always had annual checks on my eyes but missed one when my husband was sick with cancer,” explains Debra.

Living in York Peninsula community two hour's drive from Adelaide and with no optometrist in her local community, Debra booked an appointment as soon as she could. That’s when she received her life changing diagnosis.

“People living in remote rural areas don’t always have access to a local optometrist for an eye check which is the case where we live. I can’t just pop in to have my eye levels checked, I have to travel which often means staying overnight.  We are now considering moving to be closer to medical and eye services.   When I was first diagnosed, I was so scared I was going to lose my sight. I had my husband build a deck on the back of our house so I could look at my garden.  I wanted to soak my garden all into my memories.”

“As a former practice manager, I helped assist patients with cancers and various diseases, but I didn’t know anything about glaucoma. Thankfully I was able to call Glaucoma Australia’s SiGHTWiSE Program and speak to someone as well as read the materials on their website including other people’s stories.  It’s the unknown element that’s so difficult to process. Having access to information and guidance over the phone helped me manage the anxiety of receiving a glaucoma diagnosis. We take our eyes for granted and it’s just so important to quality of life.”

This World Glaucoma Week (10–16 March 2024), Glaucoma Australia is urging all Australians to have their eyes checked, as well as reminding those with a glaucoma diagnosis to adhere to their treatment to slow its progression and save precious sight.

Book an eye check this World Glaucoma Week (10–16 March 2024).  If you or someone you care for lives with glaucoma, call Glaucoma Australia’s free SiGHTWiSE support line on 1800 500 880.