A routine eye check-up likely saved David “Kochie” Koch from going blind, the Sunrise presenter has revealed.
The 66-year-old was diagnosed with glaucoma three years ago and said if he waited any longer it could have become untreatable.
“It was a real revelation and a bit scary to think that if this optometrist hadn’t picked it up, it would have kept getting worse and worse,” Kochie told the Herald Sun.
Glaucoma is a deterioration of the optic nerve that affects around 300,000 Australians. If untreated, it can cause blindness.
The deterioration can be so gradual sufferers will not notice the difference and avoid seeking treatment until it is too late.
“We do lots of reading on Sunrise, a fair bit off the autocue, and I hadn’t noticed a difference over the years,” Koch said.
“If it hadn’t been treated for another year or two it would have been really hard to stabilise and it would have gone over the tipping point.”
Doctors don’t know exactly what causes glaucoma; however, it is understood to be linked to a build-up of pressure in the eye.
Nerve cells that have been damaged by glaucoma can’t be repaired, but common treatments including eye drops or laser surgery can slow or prevent further damage.
Australians over the age of 50 are advised to get an eye check-up every two to three years. For those of Asian and African descent, it is advised the check-ups start from 40.
Koch said being surrounded by a large family reminded him there was still plenty for him to “see” in his life.
“I’ve got eight grandchildren and now my youngest daughter is getting married in three weeks … it reminds you how much we take eye health for granted,” he said.
Koch urged Australians to get regular check-ups and see an optometrist before it’s too late if they have doubts about their vision.
“It may not be normal and you might have this insidious glaucoma,” he said.
“If it gets out of control, imagine what you won’t see in the future — it’s a simple test, just go to any optometrist and it’s a simple thing.”