When it comes to your health the eyes really are the window to your body and your soul.
I am about to find out my health is not as good as I'd hoped. "You have got a very mild case of early macular change; the specs indicate that the macular has been effected. It is of no consequence yet because you have not lost any vision but that is something that needs to be monitored”, said optometrist, Harry Melides.
This sort of monitoring doesn't just save his patients' sight. Holly Ann went to see him after three different doctors failed to pick up what was causing her severe headaches. She thought she needed glasses but, "He just sent me straight off to hospital", Holly Ann said.
In highly magnified images of her eyes, Harry found enormous pressure was being put on her brain. Untreated it would have sent her blind, and eventually killed her. "A 15 minute test; I was straight in to a field test, straight off to hospital, two days later I was in for a lumber puncture, MRI and had it all confirmed”, Holly Ann said.
Harry had feared what he was looking at was the result of a tumour but what his eagle eye had detected were the symptoms of a rare disease.
Jimmy Prineas went because he was having trouble reading; what he found was that a main artery was 90% blocked and he needed a stent. "That artery which is the main artery of your eyes is the same size as the main arteries in your brain, so when I look at that I get a picture of what is going on up there and a picture of what is going on in the little heart arteries and kidney arteries”, Harry said.
These types of pictures are taken every day by optometrists around the country. The checks are free with Medicare and take just a few minutes. "I mean the proof is in the pudding”, Harry said.
Robert Jones is a diabetic but he didn't know that until he sat in Harry’s chair. "Harry picked up there was a bit of a bleed in one of the main arteries behind the eye”, Robert said.
It's estimated more than 230,000 Australians are walking around like Robert did -- unaware they have diabetes. At the one small suburban optometrist at least two patients a day are told to see a doctor immediately.
Macular Degeneration causes 50% of all blindness in Australia. One in seven people over 50 have it -- that's around a million people – and it’s expected to rise by 70% over the next 15 years.
Had Harry been using old-school tools, I would be none the wiser – neither would Karen Browning. She found out she'd just had a stroke, Harry's examination found plaque was blocking her artery.
She took Harry’s advice to see her doctor -- other Australians should take it too and head to their optometrist.