This is the story of how I found out that I have glaucoma.
My father has had glaucoma for years and has been seeing a leading glaucoma specialist in Brooklyn. It so happened that while taking my father to an appointment with this doctor my sister asked me when was the last time I had my eyes checked. I said that it had been about a year and a half two years and I was pretty much due for a check-up. She asked me if I wanted her to ask the doctor if he could squeeze me in even though I didn’t have an appointment, because the last time she was there he told her that glaucoma can be hereditary and it would be a good idea if all the children were checked. I told her yes and the doctor was able to squeeze me in.
I had never really thought about it before and none of my previous eye exams had the conversation ever come up as to whether or not anyone of my family had any eye problems. I think of myself as young at 46 years old and haven’t really begun to think about those health problems that can manifest themselves in one’s later years.
This doctor's equipment was all computerized and this was the first time I’d ever had a picture taken of the inside of my eye. When he sat down to consult with me he showed me the pictures and I could see immediately that there was a difference in one eye over the other. In the center of the picture of one eye there was a bright white spot in the very center. In the other eye in the same position was a splotchy shape of white.
The doctor explained to me that the normal one with the circular one and the misshapen one was abnormal and that was due to the high pressure of that eye. He explained to me that those spots were the optic nerve at the rear of the eyes. He said that over prolonged periods of time that high pressure damages the optic nerve which makes it more difficult for the signals from the eye for to make it to the brain and be translated and that eventually it would lead to blindness.
He said that it could be treated and was going to give me a prescription for eye drops. I asked him whether or not the condition would reverse or just stabilize with the medication. He told me that the condition would not reverse however, with proper maintenance and medication, it would stabilize and I would retain my sight and not go blind.
When we went back into the waiting room he told my sister that she saved my sight. I must point out that I never had any noticeable symptoms and that it was very much a surprise to me that I had a problem at all.
So I share this with all of you as a cautionary tale of the importance of regular medical checkups including the things that we don’t think about and take for granted such as our eyes and ears. Also, to make those who are not aware of it that glaucoma can be passed down through a family, so if you have any family members that have glaucoma it’s a good idea for you to be checked out specifically for that.