Tuesday, November 6, 2007

More on Glaucoma

The "Sneak Thief of Sight"
According to writer Erin Evans, "It is called the 'Sneak Thief of Sight' for a reason: Years pass before patients notice vision loss - an absence of symptoms while damage is done and sight is stolen with no way to get it back." Such was the case with my mother. She was well into her eighties when she noticed some irregularities in her field of vision - reading became more difficult, so she was given large print books which helped. The numbers on the digital clock in her bedroom became obscured when she looked directly at them so she glanced out of the side of her eyes to read the time. But Mom had always been the caretaker - the eldest sibling of non-English speaking parents and later wife and mother of four, her role in life was to be the caretaker - to be concerned of others rather than herself. Whether it was suddenly deciding she did not like sweets when there were only two cookies left and her children wanted them, or focusing on taking care of her parents, children, husband and social group, she was more conscious of the well being of others than of herself.
So when the symptoms of what would be diagnosed as glaucoma began to appear she ignored them because symptoms almost always disappeared. But her vision continued to deteriorate until she was diagnosed with glaucoma and in what seemed like just a moment, was declared legally blind. Yet the desease is preventable.
Mom was one of 67 million people worldwide with glaucoma. As people live longer the disease, which increases exponentially as populations age affects vastly increased numbers. Some estimate that up to 3 million Americans have the disease and don't realize it. The Lions Club International Foundation has provided funding for the "All Eyes on the Family" program which hosted glaucoma screening throughout the US.
Medical professionals suggest dialated eye tests at least every three years, more often if there is a history glaucoma in your family. After all, you get your teeth cleaned every six months. Shouldn't you pay equal attention to your eyes? Teeth can be replaced - eyes cannot.
Dr. Forgot

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