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May 2021

I was diagnosed in 1978 at 32 years old. I went to have my eyes checked, because my mother had been diagnosed with glaucoma in her late 50’s. She was unaware of any family history, but by that stage, she had already lost most of her sight in one eye. 

image of 80 year old woman

During my first visit, I knew the doctor was suspicious, as the white bead on the black background with the spider’s web was flashing on and off with one eye (that dates me!).

At my second visit, I was started on eye drops, which I hated as they made my pupils constrict and affected my sight. With my complaints I was soon started on a newer drop and I was happy to take these drops. I have low-pressure glaucoma. Apart from drops gradually increasing and the second eye following the first, I really had no problem taking the drops “religiously”, as I was a trained nurse and knew how important this was. I now have drops 3 times a day.

I was one of the first in the surgery to test out the newer computer perimetry machine, as I was not ‘young’. It was easy to do at first, but now I find it most frustrating. I see things that I am sure are not there! I often think that I am guessing, this is hard for a perfectionist, and I am told I can’t cheat though.

I had no worries until a couple of years before I turned 70, I found I could not read a full line of subtitles or notices, and I had difficulty keeping on the right line when I read the explanations and information beside paintings at the art gallery, or the print on TV or movies. 

Wearing my spectacles helps a bit, but I am slow and often miss the end. I have one short sighted and one long sighted eye. Most of the time I do not need specs, but they do help me to focus, and I like to wear them to drive. It seems dry eye is the problem, and so I take lots of drops for that. Mostly it affects me at night, and with my long eyelashes getting gluggy, and some pain when I open my lid at times.

I am about to have my cataracts off as the pressures are not staying as low as hoped, and at the same time a device (stent) will be inserted along with the lens.
I have been part of some research with driving and glaucoma as I am aware that this will be my first limitation to independence. I’ve never married, so live alone and want to retain my independence as long as possible. I have had 2 specialists who are highly respected for their glaucoma expertise. It’s so important that I have confidence in them, appointments are like visiting a friend.

My 4 siblings have all been diagnosed with glaucoma now that we are all over 70, and one niece has also been diagnosed. We all know the importance of good care, having watched our mother courageously cope with her blindness, which was severe enough for the last 13-14 years of her life to be designated legally blind. We know about such things as talking scales and watches, strong lamps, coin holders, and thick large print, etc.