How a Routine Eye Test Saved Sunrise Host David Koch From Going Blind

Feb 26, 2024 | Eye Health, Glaucoma Awareness

In 2022, Sunrise host David Koch revealed that he was diagnosed with a sight-threatening eye disease known as glaucoma. Fortunately, his condition was detected early during a routine eye test, and early intervention saved him from going blind. “It was a real revelation and a bit scary to think that if the optometrist hadn’t picked it up, it would have kept getting worse and worse,” Kochie told the Herald Sun.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an eye disease that causes progressive damage to the optic nerves at the back of our eyes. It is one of the leading causes of irreversible blindness in Australia. When left untreated, it can result in blindness. However, early detection and intervention can slow the progression of glaucoma and potentially save your sight.

How Do I Know If I Have Glaucoma?

Treat your eyes to a routine eye test every 1-2 years! Unfortunately, glaucoma is known as the “sneaky thief of sight” because it often causes gradual, painless deterioration of sight with no obvious symptoms. Most people do not notice any changes until significant, irreversible loss of sight occurs. It is estimated that glaucoma affects 300,000 Australians, but 50% of them are undiagnosed. This means 150,000 Australians are unaware they have glaucoma! A comprehensive eye test is the only way to detect glaucoma at its early stage.

In rare cases, an acute condition called angle closure can cause excruciating eye pain, a sudden spike in eye pressure, and rapid damage to the optic nerve, leading to acute glaucoma. However, this accounts for less than 10% of glaucoma cases in Australia.

Who Is at Risk of Having Glaucoma?

Anyone can develop glaucoma, but here are some risk factors that increase your likelihood of having it:

  • Age: The risk increases for those 50 years old or over.
  • Heredity: Your risk increases tenfold if your parents or siblings have glaucoma.
  • Ethnic Background: People of African and Asian descent are at a higher risk.
  • Refractive Error: High levels of long-sightedness or short-sightedness.
  • Prolonged use of steroids.
  • Diabetes.
  • Sleep apnea.
  • High levels of eye pressure.
  • High or low blood pressure.
  • Migraines.
  • Specific injuries or operations on the eye.

How Is Glaucoma Managed?

Glaucoma is a chronic eye disease that cannot be cured but can be slowed down with various interventions.

Common interventions for glaucoma include:

  • Eye drops: This is the most common form of treatment.
  • Laser treatment: Different types of laser treatment may be used to treat different forms of glaucoma.
  • Surgery combined with cataract surgery.
  • Conventional surgery.

Sometimes, one or multiple forms of intervention are required to achieve the best management for glaucoma. Once diagnosed, it is crucial to adhere to the treatment and maintain regular follow-up appointments for life.