Missed Moments

A sponsored post for Glaucoma Aware

How seriously do you take the health of your eyes? I know for many people, it’s at the very bottom of the list of things we have to keep on top of. Our weight, exercise, skin, eating well, not drinking…being an adult is VERY grown up at times isn’t it?

It’s probably been about 10 years now that I have been paying attention to the health of my eyes. While I had my eyes tested, and needed glasses for long sightedness and reading, it didn’t really bother me until our family was introduced to Glaucoma.

My Dad (who at the time was in his very early 60’s) was driving home at night after complaining to my step Mum that it was hard to see. Granted, it was raining at the time, but when he was finally inside, he covered his left eye and realised that he couldn’t see at all.

Just like that, he had completely lost 98% vision out of one of his eyes.

You see, he had been struck with the leading cause of blindness in Australia, Glaucoma. Known as the “silent thief of sight” it’s asymptomatic, which means that the symptoms are undetected until they reach an advanced stage. This is the main concern for glaucoma: patients are undiagnosed for this potential blinding disease.

So what happened to my Dad?

He was straight away taken and operated on to see if they could relieve the pressure behind the eye that he’d lost sight on. But, it was too late. Glaucoma’s other cruel twist is that there is no cure. It leads to irreversible blindness. They quickly tried to relieve pressure on his other eye that was sitting at about 50%. As luck would have it, at the same time that this happened, while chopping wood he had a piece land in the good eye which was very scary as it cut his eye too and put it at further risk.

With constant monitoring and lots of operations over the past 10 years they have been able to keep the pressure down on the other eye so his vision sits at about 50%, from one eye and 2% on the other. It’s something that he has to stay on top of regularly, and something that despite the 10 years that have passed, there haven’t been many improvements or advancements on treatment.

Ever since then I have made it a priority for myself, my siblings and kids to be regularly tested for glaucoma in particular. I get my eyes tested every 18 months, hassle my siblings to do the same and will make sure that my kids will be tested every 2 years. Glaucoma can be tested at the same time you get your eyes done at the optometrist or ophthalmologist, it’s a simple test that doesn’t hurt or bother you. Both girls have had them without any worries.

I can’t imagine what it’s been like for my poor Dad, all the things that he has missed out on seeing properly over the past 10 years. So many grandchildren and events that he has been able to see, but not properly. I can’t imagine how scary it was for him to go from normal to 50% out of one eye straight away.

And I’m determined to stay on top of this for myself after learning that the biggest risk factor for glaucoma is having a family history of the disease. Relatives of glaucoma patients actually have a ten-fold increase of developing the disease.

To raise awareness of this disease, a new campaign called Glaucoma Aware aims to unearth thousands of Aussies who face permanent blindness from glaucoma and don’t yet know it. The campaign is calling on all Australians to recognise the importance of early diagnosis of glaucoma and to ensure that everyone has comprehensive eye exams. Especially those of you out there who have a family history of this disease.

Do you have a history of glaucoma in your family?
Know anyone who has been struck down by this invisible disease?
When was the last time you or your kids had their eyes tested?

Comments

  1. So important Beth!! My husband was diagnosed with Glaucoma in her early TWENTIES!! He was lucky enough to have felt something was off and so only lost a tiny bit of vision. So definitely not just something for old people to worry about!! His Dad and Grandmother have it too so my two girls go to a pediatric opthalmologist every 6-9 months, I am not lucky around with that!!

    • So important Beth!! My husband was diagnosed with Glaucoma in his early TWENTIES!! He was lucky enough to have felt something was off and so only lost a tiny bit of vision. So definitely not just something for old people to worry about!! His Dad and Grandmother have it too so my two girls go to a pediatric opthalmologist every 6-9 months, I am not lucky around with that!!

    • Oh wow – glad he is on top of it Sarah – such a scary disease x

  2. Robyn Jokic says:

    I had a huge scare last year! After several visits(5 months) to Spec Savers they just couldn’t get my prescription right and was made feel like an idiot. I decided to finally get a second opinion (thanks to my bookkeeper for nagging me), lucky for me I did. My day began with a 9.30am appointment with another optometrist who had all the right equipment and several tests later I ended up at Greenslopes Hospital having laser surgery. I was told by the specialist who performed the surgery that I was one lucky lady, if I had left it any longer I would of lost the sight of my left eye due to glaucoma, then on the Monday I had to have laser surgery to the right eye which wasn’t as bad but bad enough to have the surgery, which at the time of my first visit I think I was in shock and thought Monday app was just a check up Scary! Moral of the story is check that whatever optometrist you go to is qualified to check for glaucoma, I’m sooo lucky that I am now in the hands of professionals. I have a follow up appointment with the specialist end of the month so fingers crossed!

  3. Gosh what an eye opener Beth, if you’ll pardon the pun. No, I haven’t had my eyes tested since 1995 in my early twenties when I was looking for answers to why I was getting daily headaches. I’ve heard of glaucoma but knew very little about it before this. Thanks for sharing your Dad’s story. I best be off to get my eyes tested! x

  4. Gail Virgona says:

    I have literally just (ok two hours ago) walked in from the optometrist with our three kids. Two of them need glasses and I had no idea! One is in grade two and has struggled with reading. I feel so terrible but am glad it’s sorted now. Third one is devo she DOESN’T need glasses.

  5. This is so close to home for me. My lovely boyfriend was diagnosed 3 years ago. He’s 26. I can’t imagine what he has gone through mentally and physically. He is managing his condition and we are focusing on seeing what we can together before it worsens.

    • Louise, my husband was diagnosed in his 20s and has been stable for over 10 years with treatment. Daily eye drops for almost 10 years, then 2 years ago his Opthalmologist suggested laser surgery that can reduce pressure on a semi permanent basis. He doesn’t need drops at the moment but still has regular checks, he will eventually need drops again, but it’s very manageable with treatment. All the best!

    • Oh Louise, so sorry to hear that. So young too. Best of luck with it x

  6. Yes I have it….got picked up by an excellent optometrist at a regular Spectacle place….just happened that he was doing extra work/further study at the Lions Eye Institute. So thankful. Had to have injections into the eye to release the pressure…..luckily it worked enough for me to then be put on daily eye drops. Have to be checked regularly…pics taken, pressure tests, fields tests etc. Glaucoma specialist says it was made worse by me having had a radial keratotomy, cuts in the eye to improve sight, when I was much younger. Have awful probs with dry eyes, sore eyes, night blindness, sight variences, floaters and now have a cataract! And yes I had an Aunt who went blind in her twentys and an Uncle who also had it.
    Get on to it people!

  7. thanks beth!
    a good reminder for people!
    my father has macro degeneration and has an injection in his eye! ouch! every six weeks!
    he hates it! but it’s better than the alternative!
    I have recently had every eye test known to womankind and
    thank goodness only showing an early stage cataract!
    hope all is coming together re packing and pre holiday stuff!
    have a good one hun! much love m:)X