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Hannah was diagnosed with glaucoma just a few months after she was born. Now she wants to make a difference and make people more aware of childhood glaucoma and its impact.
Mark Eckstein: It started when she was born. She was born six weeks early and we had an appointment already set up with an eye doctor, she came and looked and said, “she has congenital cataracts.” So she felt that, “let’s get her out of the hospital for a couple weeks, have eye patches on her eyes and then we’ll have surgery on her eyes to remove the cataracts.” Once they removed the cataracts they found that within a few months the pressure was building in her eyes, so that’s how we found out about glaucoma and realized that it’s not just a 70-year-old man’s disease that it’s really part of the number one cause of blindness in children.
Kimberly Eckstein: She was on three drops for a long time, a couple of them were three times a day, so we would have to, a lot of times, work with teachers at school or day care workers and make sure they’re doing the midday, make sure we’re at home at night when it’s time to give them. If we were going to be out of town then some of them have to be refrigerated. So we had to work around those obstacles with medication. She was really light-sensitive in her one eye and obviously after she lost the vision in her eye I think one of the biggest changes and impacts was that we don’t let her play sports with balls and things like that because of the risk of injury to her other eye. So that’s made I think the biggest impact for her because she doesn’t get to do those things.
Hannah: I was playing soccer and then my glaucoma started getting worse.
Mr. Eckstein: As she gets older, more sports open, so now we’ve got her, she’s running cross country, doing very well, aren’t you? (to Hannah) We’re looking more at track. You know, there are sports without balls.
Mrs. Eckstein: She wants to help other people, other children, who have glaucoma. She wants to make a difference and make people more aware of childhood glaucoma and its impact.
Mr. Eckstein: Hannah had a detached retina due to glaucoma three years ago, so we went through many surgeries at that time and eventually just, the problem couldn’t be repaired. When she started going back to school it was right about the time of Glaucoma Awareness Week so she wanted to do something and she spoke to her teacher and they said they could do it. She and her classmates made posters and raised money, just sort of a homegrown little activist trying to help do what she can.
Hannah: Because I don’t want other people to have to go through what I go through, so I want to try to help find something so they don’t have to go through it.
Mrs. Eckstein: We knew to look for some kind of vision problems with her because I had cataracts and my dad had cataracts so we were anticipating that. I mean, at one point in time we weren’t even sure we were going to have children because I didn’t want my child to face the struggles that I faced but, um, we wouldn’t trade her. I think she’ll do well no matter what comes at her.
Mr. Eckstein: I just feel that glaucoma is a disease that is not really at the forefront of everybody’s thought process. If something affects your family you’ve got to help that instead of, I understand cancer and everything else, yes that is important too, but this is important to us, so why not help? The bottom line of it is, a cure—treatments are nice—but a cure would make treatments irrelevant. Too many diseases, yeah, we have treatments. We’ve got to find cures.
First posted June 20, 2013
Last reviewed on June 11, 2021