For World Glaucoma Week, Dr Mohd Aziz Husni writes the fears of a person with a family history of glaucoma…
Dear Ophthalmologist, Optometrist, Optician and all Primary Health Caregivers,
For those of you who don’t know me, it’s okay. I am just your ordinary family man in his mid-forties. My dad is currently blind due to glaucoma despite the eye drops and the few surgeries he has had over the years. I may have glaucoma but despite so many doctors that I met along the years, nobody has said anything about glaucoma. The funny thing is that nobody has even asked.
God knows that I don’t want to have glaucoma and be like my dad. At times I just want to confront my inner demons (that is if I have glaucoma) and fight it. But nobody tells me anything. Not my GP who I see frequently for my asthma, nor my optician who I see every time I need to change my glasses. I am sure that they all know what glaucoma is.
On many occasions, I have accompanied my father while he attended his glaucoma follow-up. I was referred once to the clinic for sore eyes and was seen by a resident. He said that I only had conjunctivitis. He gave me some eye drops and off I went.
Do I want to know whether I have glaucoma or not? Of course, I want to know. If there is some treatment out there that can prevent me from becoming blind, please start it now! Yes, I mean it, start it now, before my glaucoma reaches an advanced stage. I read online that there is some breakthrough in glaucoma treatment. There are new eye drops and new devices that can help to lower the eye pressure without causing many side effects.
What you need to do is just examine my eyes. You don’t even need to measure my eye pressure. Well, if I am having low pressure glaucoma, you may not want to say that my eyes are normal and off again I go, do you? All that you need to do is to look into my eyes and examine my optic disc (even if I am a layman, I know what is an optic disc). I am sure you know that glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve and the optic nerve is the most important structure that you need to look at.
You should consider all patients who are above 40 years old as a glaucoma suspect until proven otherwise. Regardless of what their complaints are, you need to examine their optic nerve. If you have more time, well you can measure the eye pressure also.
I know for a fact that the earlier my glaucoma is diagnosed, the earlier you can start the treatment and the better chance I have of keeping my vision and maintaining my quality of life. All I want is to see my two daughters graduate from college, get married, and play with my grandchildren. I hope that is not too much for you.
How you will do that, well, I will leave that to you and the experts.
Our hope as patients is that all of you out there can work together for the benefit of people like us. What we only want is for our glaucoma to be diagnosed as early as possible and treatment started ASAP.
We like to wish all of you a very happy World Glaucoma Week which will be held from the 8th until 14th of March, 2020.
Glaucoma Patient Anonymous
P.S. Hope to see you soon!
Image on top: Getting screened for glaucoma by Maria Jose Sanchez Lira