Lois Barry is a 74-year-old Victorian who has suffered from glaucoma for many years. But thanks to a new minimally invasive surgery Lois is the recipient of micro-stent device to treat her glaucoma, potentially saving her eye sight.
Although there is no cure for glaucoma, with treatment, in most cases glaucoma can be controlled and further loss of sight prevented or delayed. Generally, there are no symptoms or warning signs in the early stages. The loss of sight is usually gradual, starting with side vision being lost before the patient becomes aware of any problems.
The primary problem in glaucoma is damage to the optic nerve, the part of the eye that transmits images we send to the brain. Although the exact cause of glaucoma is still unclear, it may occur when fluid cannot drain out of the eye, causing a build up of pressure inside the eye. The new minimally invasive glaucoma devices allow the fluid to drain out of the eye, relieving high pressure.
Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in Australia, affecting over 300,000 Australians, but it can be diagnosed with a simple eye test by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. During this week as part of World Glaucoma Week the Medical Technology Association of Australia, along with our ophthalmic members, will do our part in helping raise awareness.
According to a 2010 Access Economics report 75% of vision loss is preventable or treatable, but incredibly the economic cost to the Australian community was a calculated to be $16.6 billion in 2009.
Global advances in medical technology over the past 20 years have resulted in a 56% reduction in hospital stays, 25% decline in disability rates and increased life expectancy of approximately 3.2 years.
Technology allows patients to hear, to walk, to see, to live or to have a quality of life that they otherwise would not have. Innovation over the years has seen some critical devices develop from technologies that were lifesaving but their design and functional restrictions limited patients’ quality of life to technologies that now save lives and provide a high quality of life for patients.
Vision impairment can significantly impact the daily lives of patients in many ways such as reading and driving.
This week (12-16 March) marked World Glaucoma Week. PulseLine is supporting Vision 2020 Australia’s call to encourage all Australians to have regular eye tests, especially those with a direct family link to glaucoma, to help prevent and treat conditions like glaucoma.
Last year Lois along with her surgeon Dr Nathan Kerr spoke at an event in Parliament House to raise awareness of the life changing and lifesaving impact of medical technology. The power and authenticity of her story left everyone, particularly our federal parliamentarians with no doubt, medical technology can change lives for the better.