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As a glaucoma specialist, I have words of advice that I like to give to every glaucoma patient — words of advice that I’ve gathered over the years and feel that each patient should know to better take control of their disease.
Glaucoma is an eye condition that, if left untreated, will lead to blindness, and that blindness is irreversible. We know that 50% of people who have glaucoma are not aware that they actually have the disease, and we know that people who are aware that they have the disease still struggle with trying to live with glaucoma and take care of it.
Imagine that you lost your vision today. What would you miss most? I want you to take a moment to write it down. Would it be that you would miss your family, seeing their faces, the memories that you remember having with them? Would it be certain sites that you’ve seen, if you’ve traveled around the world and seen certain beautiful scenes? Or maybe it might be your independence, being able to take care of yourself, walk without fear. These are things that could actually go if your glaucoma is left untreated.
If you have been recently diagnosed with glaucoma, or if you are struggling with trying to deal with glaucoma, here are some top pieces of advice from a glaucoma specialist to help you cope with your diagnosis and treatment.
Speaking out also means: speak out to your family members. Glaucoma is hereditary. Your family members are also at risk for glaucoma because you have it. And if you don’t tell them, you’re actually doing them a disservice, because the earlier they find out, the easier it is for them to treat it. You want to be able to give them the gift of sight. You know that you have glaucoma, and you might not have known that you had it when it was first diagnosed. You can imagine that they also might have glaucoma but not know it, so allow them to know by sharing that information with them.
Glaucoma risk in families is 4 to 9 times higher; it's very strongly hereditary, especially among siblings. Anyone who is a blood relative is at increased risk. Let your family members know that you have glaucoma, that they may be at risk, and encourage them to have their eyes screened. You might very well be giving them the gift of sight.
Tips and advice from Dr. Okeke are excerpted from her upcoming book: “Glaucoma? Learn the Risks and Save Your Sight.”
Article by Constance Okeke, MD, MSCE. Dr. Okeke is an assistant professor of ophthalmology at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, VA., and a glaucoma specialist and cataract surgeon at Virginia Eye Consultants.
Last reviewed on May 01, 2020