One of Australia’s most loved rock stars, Kirk Pengilly from iconic band INXS, has been announced as the newest ambassador for Glaucoma Australia, in the hope of raising greater awareness of the importance of eye health. Part of his message is encouraging Australians to discuss their family’s eye health to find out if they have a genetic history of the disease.
Kirk, who is instantly recognisable for his signature black-rimmed glasses, knows firsthand that eyesight is a gift to be cherished. His own experience of glaucoma is the driving force behind his new role with Glaucoma Australia.
“In 1985, I came within an inch of losing my sight because of glaucoma. Due to the severity of the disease, I was fast-tracked to a pioneering Australian ophthalmologist who quickly treated my deteriorating sight and prevented further damaged to my vision. Until that point I had no idea what glaucoma was,” Kirk shares.
“When I got glaucoma it really hit home and I realised how important sight was to me – and, obviously, to everyone. It was a real wake-up call as I came so close to losing my eyesight. As a result I’m certainly more aware of my eyes, my eye health and the importance of regular eye exams.”
Glaucoma Australia CEO Annie Gibbins says the high profile charity is thrilled to welcome Kirk Pengilly as an ambassador.
“Kirk’s personal experience shows that glaucoma can affect anyone, and his passionate plea for Australians to go and get their eyes tested will go a long way to increasing glaucoma awareness, early detection and intervention,” Annie says. “Kirk also shares the positive message that good eye health can help save your sight. Which is why it’s really important that anyone who has a family history of glaucoma or is 50 years or older gets tested every two years.”
Glaucoma is the leading cause of avoidable blindness worldwide, affecting more than 300,000 Australians, yet it is estimated that 50% of those living with glaucoma are undiagnosed. While nine out of 10 Australians say that sight is their most valued sense, more than 8 million Australians are still not having regular eye examinations with an optometrist.
"Vision loss is preventable if detected early," Pengilly said. "I've been getting my eyes checked since I was very little, and to me, it's like going to the dentist. So it's important to get your eyes checked."
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