Keep an eye out for signs of deteriorating eye health


Having grown up with the coke bottle glasses since primary school I feel well qualified to speak on behalf of the heavily populated bespectacled community.

I can’t count the amount of glasses I’ve stepped on, broken in British Bulldog mishaps or snapped in an uneducated attempt to re-shape them before I walked in the door after school.

To be fair the black, thick, not aesthetically pleasing specs that I wore for many years probably lasted the longest before I tried to step up in the fashion stakes with the finer golden or silver frames.

My early diagnosis was long-sightedness, which for those of you walking freely among us with unassisted 20/20 vision, means I can – pretty much unassisted – see a football 40 m away in mid-flight. But throw a newspaper under my nose and you are no chance of hearing today’s headlines.

As for the meaning of 20/20, again by way of explanation for those in vision utopia, it is simply being able to see something 20 feet (a tick over 6 m) away clearly.

I’ve had so many eye tests over the years I should know the Snellen test (that chart of letters in decreasing sizes) off by heart.

‘Four eyes’ taunts were officially put in the rear vision mirror, as best I could make them out, as a 16-year-old when a great aunty became a glorious benefactor and delivered contact lenses into my world.

Now it hasn’t always been smooth-sailing with the contacts, but for that socially vital teenage period they made it a decidedly more enjoyable time in my life.

Going on the figures I was obviously not alone, with about 700,000 Australians aged from 15-64 years regular contact lens users.

Now, I’m no optometrist (see Richard Lenne’s opinions for a professional viewpoint in the adjoining article) but here is a layman’s explanation of visual deficiencies.

Those of you that suffer from short-sightedness will understand the frustration of not being able to focus on objects in the distance. If it makes you feel any better there are far fewer of you (short-sighted people, in Australia at least) out there trying to see where your golf ball went or make out your favourite player on the footy field.

We, the spectacle wearing community, shouldn’t really feel that isolated. In fact, according to health statistics almost half of the population is wearing contact lenses or glasses.

There’s a case for heading into the optometry space if I’ve ever seen one.

And even if they are, in many cases, simply a fashion accessory, the number of Australians who own sunglasses comes in at 70 per cent of the population.

A 2018 study put the number of Australians suffering from cataracts at 700,000. Cataracts are a clouding eye’s lens, making it difficult to read, drive a car or even make out facial expressions.

(According to a source close to the writer it is like looking through a fogged up window.)

As explained earlier I am no eye doctor, but steer clear of smoking and alcohol (fair advice in general really), wear sunglasses, eat well and get your eyes examined regularly.

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