My glaucoma story commenced fifty-nine years ago when I was 24 years old. Several eye haemorrhages occurred over 7 or 8 years and then I was diagnosed with glaucoma in 1971. The treatment given at the time was Beta Blocker eye drops. Severe headaches were experienced, and my eyesight deteriorated alarmingly. The headaches got worse and my eyesight deteriorated further after the eye drops were strengthened. This made life very difficult with three young children to care for.
I was referred to the Eye Hospital in Melbourne and diagnosed with further haemorrhages and glaucoma in both eyes. The eye drops were changed and after about ten days the haemorrhages started to heal, and sight improved.
The eye drops prescribed at the Eye Hospital, controlled the pressure for about twenty-five years until those drops became unavailable and I was put back onto a beta blocker eye drop.
In November 1995 I developed a bronchial spasm and had a respiratory arrest. Fortunately, the arrest didn’t happen until I got to the doors of the ICU at the Mersey Community Hospital, Latrobe. It was touch and go and thanks to the skill of the medical staff, I survived after forty-two hours on a ventilator. I was discharged after ten days, only to be readmitted the next day with pneumonia and a collapsed lung. I was told that the bronchial spasm was caused by the beta blocker eye drops which built up respiratory inflammation over several years and was told never to have beta blockers again.
The road back to reasonable health was a long and difficult one and long-term speech therapy was needed after being intubated for forty-two hours.
In 1996 a trabeculectomy was performed in the right eye to assist drainage for the glaucoma and the same again for the left eye in 1997. Later the same year my right eye developed endothalmitis (infection). It was only due to the skill of Ophthalmologist, Dr Michael Haybittel (Burnie) that the eye was saved as well as some sight. The trabeculectomy in the left eye was successful with pressure well controlled but drops have been required twice daily in the right eye.
I am most indebted and grateful for the excellent and regular medical care I received and fortunate to still have some sight at eighty-two years of age. I am one of the lucky ones.
Glaucoma is in my family and so it is vitally important to have regular eye checks and to follow up any vision disturbance, pain, redness or discomfort of the eye immediately.