“You better hold on because glaucoma is on its way”.
Those were the dreaded words I heard from my eye doctor in March of this year (2016). It was like a nightmare coming true. Hello everyone, my name is Anna and this is my story:
A number of years ago, I was a mystery shopper. One day, I was given a job to get a free eye check up at a local renowned optical chain. I made my appointment and did the test. When the eye doctor was doing his routine, he looked at me funny and said, “You have glaucoma in your right eye.” I was very surprised and told him no. He said that I needed to get a yearly check up to make sure that it was monitored. I answered him in a non-committing way (knowing fully well that we did not have health insurance and not sure that we could afford much). With a growing family, we were doing the best we could.
At that time, I didn’t really know what glaucoma was apart that it was some kind of condition of the eye. I did not know that it can lead to blindness. When I’d gotten home, I searched the internet for more information about it and I became depressed after seeing that it was one of the leading cause of blindness. I was stunned and scared at the same time. I tried to put off the fears and worries by not thinking much about it. Life was already hectic as it was. The next year for my yearly checkup, I decided to go to another optician because I wanted a second opinion and so I made an appointment. They were one of those who gave one pair free eyeglasses. I did not tell them about being told that I have glaucoma. I believed that if they found it, they would tell me. I paid a little extra for them to check my eye for diseases. The doctor said that everything was fine and my eyes were healthy. The pressures were good. I felt elated. I was glad that I chose another doctor.
The nagging feeling stayed with me though. I started having bloodshot red eyes, blurry vision and headaches. I used the Soothe brand of eyedrops and it helped the redness of my eyes but then it would come back again so I made an appointment with another doctor. Still, I did not mention anything of being diagnosed with glaucoma. This new doctor was very nice, caring and took his time with the exams and explaining of different things. Then came the bombshell. He said, “Did anyone ever told you that you have glaucoma? I am a hundred percent sure that you have it in your right eye and 99.9 % sure that you have it in your left eye.” My world came crashing down. I admitted to him what the doctor from my mystery shopping told me. He asked me if anyone in my family had glaucoma. As far as I knew, some of my siblings and my mother had cataracts and surgeries done to remove them but at that time, I wasn’t aware of any glaucoma incidents. I was then scheduled to do the GDX and other testing. I went home scared and depressed. When we went to church next bible study, I put in a prayer request for my situation. After getting the tests done, my doctor told me that he did not find anything to diagnose me with glaucoma but that my eyes were stable. He said he swore I had glaucoma when he first did that initial exam. I was thrilled and felt that my prayers were answered. He told me that I would have to have my eyes tested regularly. I have astigmatism so I wear glassses.
The next year when I did my usual routine, I was told that I was a glaucoma suspect. I couldn’t understand what he meant. Then he said that it just meant that the conditions were there to become a glaucoma patient but glaucoma has not set in yet so I was in the “suspect” stage. He said that he’d be monitoring my eyes with the checkups. Then last year at my usual check up, he said that everything was stable and doing well. I felt relieved. I still pray for me not to get glaucoma. I was worried some but hoping against hope that my eyes stay stable. Then the bombshell at this year’s checkup in March. “You better hold on because glaucoma is on its way. I am 99.9% sure that you would get it in ten years”.
I am scared. I do not want to go blind. I need my eyes. I have always hated the dark. I write. I love photography and working on my computer. I do not want to be a burden to others or to depend on someone to take me places or do stuff for me that I could have done without this situation. I have joined a Glaucoma support group on Facebook so that I can get to learn more from people who have it. They are very wonderful and supportive.
Lately, I have been having lots of eye pains and burning especially when I wake up in the mornings. My eyes have been sensitive to light during the past few years so I try not to drive in the dark but now it is even more sensitive. My vision is getting worse. When I look through my eyeglasses, images are not as crisp as they used to be. I figured it was dry eyes so I used some eye gel but no improvements. I started to get worried so I made another appointment with my doctor. He is nice. I have stayed with him for these past years and he has always been very kind and understanding. After telling him my symptoms, he checked my eyes and decided that it was very dry. I’ve had dry eyes earlier this year and he said it probably was because of the pollen so he’d put me on some over the counter eyedrops for two months. I was supposed to let him know if I was still getting the dry eyes.
The doctor did a fluorescent test on my eyes and used an ultraviolet light to check it. He said that the dryness had caused some damage to the surface of my eyes and that the right eye had it worse. Now, I am using the Blink gel drops four times a day and he put me on a prescription steroid eyedrops to use twice a day for a month. He said that if it does not improve, that he’d have to put me on a constant drop. Now,thinking back on that statement, I should have asked him if he meant that I was going to be treated as a glaucoma patient and use the eyedrops they use. I am scared. I am worried. I know that I have to trust God but it can be hard sometimes not to worry. Because of all this, I have decided to go ahead and create this blog so that I can write down my experiences, thoughts and feelings – hoping that it can create therapy for me and maybe help others too.