“You do not have cataract, rather… You have Glaucoma.” These were the words my doctor told me after having a detailed dilated-pupil examination of my eyes. And I was like, “Well, What is Glaucoma? Is it a disease?” Obviously, I was unaware of that disease at that time. And despite that, the graveness in the doctor’s voice was clearly reflecting that there was some problem with my eyes, which made me quite scared.
A Decade Old Story!
This story is more than a decade old now. I was in my early teenage, perhaps 13 or 14, at that time. And the reason due to which I went to have an optical checkup was that I was having a gradual visual impairment and problems with my eyes for some weeks. My eye sight was degrading slowly. I was experiencing halos around the light bulbs, was having difficulty in adjusting to the brightness changes and was feeling a regular irritation and itching in my eyes. All of these symptoms were alarming and thus led to my appointment with the doctor.
The Risk of Cataract
Since, I had a family history of Cataract, and my kin who were diagnosed with cataract told me that they too had gradual visual impairment. And that impairment was completely restored as soon as they got their cataract removed. So, in the back of my head, I was quite sure that I would be having cataract problem, which I eloquently told my doctor too.
But after his examination, when he told me about that, at first I was in a fix. I was not sure whether to be happy for not being diagnosed as a Cataract patient or to be dismayed upon the diagnosis of Glaucoma. But as I mentioned earlier that the tone and graveness in the sound of my doctor made me feel that “boy, I am in some trouble.”
Will I go blind?
I gathered some of the information in my limited resources about the disease. The first thing I came to know was that “The vision lost due to glaucoma cannot be recovered!” Learning this made me somewhat more tensed. My eye-sight and everything related to that including my studies and career were at stake. I was in a fit of despair and the question which was constantly creeping in my mind was that, “Will I go blind?”
I think, I was lucky enough, by the grace of Almighty, that I got the timely advice from my doctor and one of my paternal uncles (who was studying medicine at that time). They comforted me and told me that although the fact is true that the eye sight lost due to glaucoma cannot be recovered, but there is one more thing to this fact and that is the remaining vision can still be saved. I was diagnosed in the early stage of the vision loss, so he said that my chances were good that I could retain the remaining of my eye sight for my whole life (God Willing).
How did I get Glaucoma?
I was a rarity in the sense that I got glaucoma in a very tender age. The next question that struck my mind was, “Why me?” I came to know that almost anyone in the world having eyes can get the disease. But this is more common in older ones and also those having a family history of the disease. As I was young, so the former risk factor was out of question, and for the latter, I didn’t have any family history of glaucoma. So, my doctor checked the drugs that I was using for my eyes in the past. The most probable reason according to him was the use of steroids containing medicines for treating some allergy problems in my eyes. The previous local doctors from whom I used to get my check ups used to give me steroid containing ointments, which on one hand worked wonders for me, as they used to relieve my symptoms very fast, but on the other hand they also caused this damage to my eyes.
But anyways, let bygones be bygones. I do not blame my previous doctor for this condition as he was only trying, in his knowledge and expertise, to relieve my symptoms, and in which he somewhat succeeded as well. But the point here is that, prolonged usage of steroid containing medicines may yield short term benefits, but in long term they cause more destruction. Always seek the advice of an expert eye specialist for the eye-problems, because eyes are precious.
Going for the Surgery
After I was diagnosed with the disease, the first thing which my doctor did was to carry out some of the tests to get the first hand knowledge of the current condition of the disease. Then, he prescribed me some medicines to control it. And finally, when he was sure that the best solution was to perform a surgery, he advised me to go for it. I was a bit scared, as I never had a surgery before. But the condition I was in, I didn’t have any choice left except for acting upon my doctor’s advice. So I went for it. He performed the surgery on both of my eyes, one after the other, with a gap of almost a year between the two operations. Both the surgeries went successful with Allah’s grace.
Now, as I am writing these lines, I strongly believe that the decision was absolutely right to perform the surgery at that time. The surgery stopped the progress of the disease and provided me with the glimmer of hope and prevented further damage to the vision.
Living with Glaucoma
I reckon myself to be fortunate enough to get the disease diagnosed in the early stage, by the grace of Allah. But still, that fact remained intact that I would not regain the vision I have lost. At first, I had difficulty in performing some of the routine tasks. I could not see the white board clearly in my school and college and I too had difficulty in traveling particularly in dark. But, thank God, I was always surrounded by a whole bunch of helpful people, who helped me during those times. Here, I would love to extend my gratitude to them, who have helped me in all those trying times.
As time passed, the general acceptance about my condition increased among my loved ones, and I too got used to the disease and started performing my daily chores a bit more comfortably. I finished my college studies and further went on to complete my engineering and currently I am doing good with my job as well, by the grace of Allah. Now, when I revisit those old days, I feel so much blessed that I got out of that traumatic period and now living a healthy and normal life.
I would like to end this whole story by re-iterating that I, from my own experience, believe that if diagnosed earlier, the chances are good that glaucoma patients would continue to see the world with both eyes to the rest of their lives, if they stick to the advice of their medical expert properly (God Willing). All this story was not told to bore you all and consume some of the pages on the website, rather it is a part of the “Glaucoma Awareness Program” which aims to spread the awareness about the disease so that if someone is suffering from the same condition then he/she can benefit from my experience.
Finally, I would also urge you all to join hands and spread this awareness among your loved ones, so that together we can fight against this disease. Once again, I am thankful to Allah Almighty for all His blessings and all my loved ones for their help and support.