Tony sees bright side to glaucoma fight

7 Sights in 7 Days challenge celebrates gift of vision

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SEEING A BRIGHT SIDE: Tony Bourke has had to forgo some liberties due to his glaucoma, but is grateful to have any vision at all.

SEEING A BRIGHT SIDE: Tony Bourke has had to forgo some liberties due to his glaucoma, but is grateful to have any vision at all.

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Tony knows how precious sight is, so he's asking Australians to celebrate theirs.

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Most of us take our vision for granted, but Tony Bourke knows just how precious a gift it is.

Tony first realised his sight was deteriorating at the age of 41, and is encouraging Australians to celebrate theirs by taking part in the 7 Sights in 7 Days Challenge.

The fundraising initiative is part of Glaucoma Australia's Treat Your Eyes campaign and coincides with World Glaucoma Week, which takes place from March 6-12.

It calls on Australians to capture photos of everyday moments in their local surroundings to remind them how precious their vision is, while raising much-needed money for early detection plans and support services.

Tony was aware of his family history of Glaucoma but said he was still in disbelief when his specialist gave him a positive diagnosis.

His mother Mollie lived with glaucoma for almost 30 years. He said she received laser treatment, the condition was well managed and didn't seem to have an adverse effect on her day to day life.

Tony himself has been living with glaucoma since 1980 and has relied on a number of surgeries including laser, cataract and an emergency trabeculectomy to save his right eye.

"Although some of my liberties have been taken away, such as driving, I feel grateful that I still have some vision left and can see," he said.

The family history of the condition doesn't end there. Tony's sister Margaret was urged to get her eyes checked following Tony's diagnosis. Luckily her condition was detected early and she was able to successfully manage it with eye drops.

Tony said he was unaware of whether any of his mother's seven siblings also lived with the condition.

"Families were very private in those days and a physical illness was seen as a weakness. Sharing a glaucoma diagnosis really was unheard of, even if it may have been beneficial for others to know."

Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness worldwide, affecting 300,000 Australians, 50 per cent of whom are unaware they have the disease.

There is no cure and vision loss is irreversible, making early detection and treatment vital to saving a person's sight.

"If you have a family history of glaucoma, make the time to go and get your eyes checked regularly.

"Early intervention was the difference between my sister and myself. I am grateful for my sight, so please be grateful for yours and get your eyes checked."

To find out more about how you can be involved in the challenge click HERE

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