When Chris Trow from Manukau experienced blurry vision, he thought the time had finally come for his first ever pair of glasses. After putting off a visit to his local Specsavers store for several weeks he discovered that he had more to worry aboutthan choosing his first pair of frames.

The 27 year old machinist was shocked to learn that he had been unknowingly suffering from a serious eye condition for six months and would be lucky to keep his sight.

Specsavers Manukau, optometrist and co-owner, Chee Loh says, “A visual field test revealed that Chris had some defects on his peripheral vision. Using our digital retinal camera I was able to confirm that he had a retinal detachment, which is extremely serious. We immediately dispatched him to hospital and fortunately his sight was saved.”

Mr Trow says,” I was told by the surgeon that if I had waited even a few hours longer to get this dealt with I would most certainly have been blind now. My vision is still not perfect but I consider myself very lucky. I am really appreciative of Chee’s care and professionalism.”

The retina is the part of the eye which acts like the film in a camera. It receives light through the lens of the eye, and converts that light into images that the brain interprets as our ‘visual’ world. Diseases such as diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma damage the highly sensitive retina and can lead to significant vision loss.

Some of these diseases don’t exhibit early warning signals before they begin to damage your vision so by the time you notice you have a problem, your eyes could already be irreparably damaged. This is why detecting them early is vital.

“If we can make an early diagnosis, we can slow-down or even stop vision impairment that results from some eye diseases. This is why it is very important to have regular eye examinations every two years – even if you don’t currently wear glasses or think your prescription needs updating,” says Mr Loh.

The digital retinal camera that confirmed Mr Trow’s diagnosis provides a detailed colour image of the back of the eye, assisting with early detection of diabetic eye disease, glaucoma and macular degeneration.

Mr Trow is encouraging other South Aucklanders who are overdue for an eye test, or even concerned about the health of their eyes to drop in and see Specsavers and take advantage of the free retinal photography service.

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