Mother praises Swaffham optician for saving her sight

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A mother has praised a Swaffham optician for saving her sight when she was diagnosed with a serious eye condition.

This week is World Glaucoma Week, which aims to raise awareness of the condition that can cause blindness if it is not treated.

And Zoe Gabriele, of North Pickenham, has urged people to visit their opticians regularly to make sure their eyes are in the best possible shape.

She said: “If you wait until you have symptoms it might be too late. The damage could be irreparable.”

Mrs Gabriele visited the Dipple and Conway practice in Swaffham’s Market Place for a routine eye examination last summer.

She admitted she had not had an examination for three years and believed she only needed a stronger prescription for her glasses.

However, she was told she had acute angle glaucoma, a form of the condition which damages the optic nerve through which visual information is carried from the eye to the brain. The diagnosis was later confirmed by an eye specialist.

Worldwide, it is estimated that more than 4 million people have gone blind because of the condition and it is feared that number could almost treble over the next five years. Famous people with the condition include the former footballer Edgar Davids and U2 singer Bono.

Within a few weeks of her diagnosis, Mrs Gabriele underwent laser treatment and returned to work the following day.

She sent a bouquet to the practice to thank them for saving her sight and now wants to raise awareness of the problem.

She said: “We are always being told about the importance of having any unusual lumps checked out and there are television campaigns about recognising the symptoms of strokes and acting quickly.

“But you hear very little about the dangers of glaucoma and the results of not having regular eye examinations can be devastating.”

James Conway, co-owner of Dipple and Conway, added: “Busy people may find it hard to diary out 40 minutes for eye checks with a professional optometrist but the implications of not having precious eyes checked can be life changing.”

To find out more about glaucoma, visit