The Observatory

Have an eye test……it’s on my ‘to do list’ somewhere.

To be honest, I probably had an inkling that I needed glasses. Well, it had at least crossed my mind that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get my eyes tested. But did I? The short answer is no. For a couple of years I’d had headaches, felt a bit off when driving at night, had found myself squinting when both reading and looking off into the distance, and felt like a total zombie after a few hours at the computer. But did I put two and two together, take action and do something about it? No. It took me getting a job at Vision 2020 Australia, in a building opposite an optometrist, to even start thinking about going to get my eyes tested. But still, that wasn’t enough.

I went to the station with Jennifer Gersbeck’s Executive Assistant, Jess Tracey, after a full day at the computer. I felt like such a space cadet walking from the office to Melbourne Central Station – my vision was blurred, I couldn’t focus on anything. When we got to the platform we stopped to wait about three metres from the TV screen that lists all the stations the next train will stop at. Jess started reeling off all the stops that the Balwyn train would make! What? She can see that? Hmmm, Jess I can’t see what you’re looking at. Jess jokingly told me that if I’m working for Vision 2020 Australia there’s no excuse for not getting an eye test.

The very next day I went to the optometrist opposite our building and booked in a time to have my eyes tested. At the appointment I explained how I’d never had my eyes tested (apart from maybe once as a child), how eye health is not an issue in my immediate family but explained about the headaches and so on. The optometrist was hopeful that I wouldn’t need glasses based on what I had said. Then the testing began.

It turns out that I have astigmatism in both eyes that are different from each other. Astigmatism is a type of refractive error and results in blurred vision because the cornea is abnormally curved, causing vision to be out of focus. Although astigmatism is very common, the cause of it is unknown. In most cases it is present from birth, and is often coupled with long sightedness or short sightedness. Astigmatism makes it difficult to make out fine details, either from a distance or close up- hence me not being able to read the TV screen at the station!

Astigmatism is easily diagnosed by a standard screening for refractive error which you can get done for free under Medicare by an optometrist- no further special tests are necessary. While mild astigmatism may not need correcting, more severe astigmatism can be easily corrected by glasses, contact lenses or laser surgery, correcting vision to normal.

Uncorrected refractive error can result in vision impairment ranging from mild blurring to legal blindness, depending on the severity of the refractive error. If the refractive error of the two eyes is very different and is not corrected, then permanent loss of vision in one eye, called amblyopia, can result. In Australia it has been estimated that more than a half of vision impairment, and about a quarter of legal blindness, is due to refractive error correctable with glasses. The number of people with poor vision due to uncorrected refractive error increases greatly in older age groups.

Putting on my glasses for the first time was crazy! I was with a friend and was laughing when I told him I could now see all of his wrinkles. Everything is in ‘High Def’ with glasses! What have I been missing out on?! Everyone should have their eyes tested every two years. It is free, simple, fast and easy. There are some costs when glasses are needed, but with all of the deals and 2 for 1s that exist now, affordable glasses are available and are well worth the investment.

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About the Author

Courtney Saville

Courtney graduated with a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts (International Studies) from Deakin University in October 2011. During her studies, Courtney took part in the Australian Consortium for In-Country Indonesian Studies (ACICIS) program for one year in Indonesia, and a six month legal internship in Cambodia. Courtney has followed her interest in Indonesian studies, and recently graduated with First Class Honours from the Honours in Indonesian Language Program at Deakin University, and was selected as an Australian delegate for the inaugural Conference of Australian and Indonesian Youth in October this year. Courtney has been working with Vision 2020 Australia in Global since January 2011 to continue expanding her knowledge of international development.View author's posts
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