Glaucoma refers to a condition that damages the optic nerve of the eye and if left untreated, the condition worsens with time and often results in loss of eyesight.
It is one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide, and the number of glaucoma patients is estimated to spike up to 76 million by 2020, wgweek.net reports.
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To create awareness around glaucoma, NRS Healthcare, which was formerly known as Nottingham Rehab Supplies, has launched an informational guide and infographic to coincide with World Glaucoma Week (#WGW2017).
There are estimated to be around 300,000 people living with undetected and undiagnosed glaucoma in the UK. It's a condition which affects the optic nerve, potentially causing eye pain, headaches and blurred vision, and if left untreated, can eventually lead to blindness.
NRS Healthcare's guide aims to educate those who have just been diagnosed with glaucoma and raise awareness of the condition so that others, such as friends and family members, can better recognise and understand its causes, symptoms and solutions.
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The guide also includes an interview with 81-year-old Beatrice, who was diagnosed with glaucoma nine years ago during a routine check-up at the opticians. Even though she had experienced no symptoms before her visit to the opticians and has no known relatives with the condition, some quick tests at her local hospital confirmed the diagnosis.
She explains what it is like to live with the condition day to day, what treatment she uses to keep her glaucoma from worsening, her experiences learning to adapt to her changing eyesight and her views on what the future holds.
NRS Healthcare: Beatrice, you've been living with Glaucoma for the past nine years – how were you first diagnosed?
Beatrice: A routine check-up at the opticians picked up something strange, so they sent me upstairs for a field test and that's when they diagnosed me. I was then sent to the hospital to see a consultant who examined me and did some tests to confirm I had Glaucoma. He told me I'd have to put eye drops into both my eyes for the rest of my life. I now go to the opticians every 6 months for a check-up.
NRS Healthcare: Did you experience any symptoms of Glaucoma e.g. hazy vision, eye and head pain, nausea, vomiting, rainbow coloured circles around bright lights, sudden sight loss?
Beatrice: I had absolutely no idea I had Glaucoma. I didn't experience any symptoms like hazy vision, eye or head pain, feeling sick or anything like that. One minute I was having a routine check-up, the next I was told I had Glaucoma.
NRS Healthcare: Is there a family history?
Beatrice: No-one else in the family, as far as I know, has ever been diagnosed with Glaucoma, even though we all wear glasses. However, as the most common type of Glaucoma is hereditary, my daughter, Pauline, now gets free eye checks where she has a puff of air blown into each eye to check the pressure behind her eyeballs.
NRS Healthcare: What treatment have you received to treat the condition?
Beatrice: I've been given eye drops by the doctor and have been told to put one drop in each eye at bedtime EVERY NIGHT. If I don't do this the pressure behind my eyes will build and eventually cause me to lose my vision.
NRS Healthcare: Has your Glaucoma got worse since you were diagnosed?
Beatrice: I've had "floaters" in my vision before, which are pieces of skin that break away from behind my eye, and these are a direct result of my Glaucoma. I also developed cataracts and needed these surgically removed from both of my eyes, although this wasn't linked to my Glaucoma.
NRS Healthcare: How has having Glaucoma affected your daily life? Are there certain things you now find more difficult?
Beatrice: Reading can sometimes be difficult as my eyes aren't what they used to be. But I have a friend called Joyce, who is living with Macular Degeneration, and every week we go to a Visionary Blind Society in Blackpool called N-Vision, where I've learnt a lot of things I didn't know before. For example, it's better for me to read black text on yellow paper than on white paper.
I've also found that sometimes when I'm tidying up, I can be looking for an object which is right in front of me, only I can't see it! But then I look away for a couple of seconds and when I turn back to look for it, I see it straight away and pick it up. It's very strange.
NRS Healthcare: What is your diagnosis going forward? Have you been told your eyesight may deteriorate?
Beatrice: The doctor has told me there is no cure for Glaucoma. I can't have an operation to put it right or anything like that. I have to just keep putting my drops in every night because if I don't I will lose my vision. It's as simple as that.
NRS Healthcare: Have you been given advice on how to prevent your Glaucoma from worsening?
Beatrice: I do everything the doctor tells me and consequently I'm tip-top. I never miss a day of putting my eye drops in and as a result the pressures behind my eyes have always been very good whenever I'm tested.
NRS Healthcare: What are your worries about living with Glaucoma?
Beatrice: I've never been a moaner and I don't see what good worrying does. When it comes to life throwing you curveballs you've just got to stay positive and get on with things. I think your attitude towards things is especially important when you're older – you've got to keep getting out there and looking after yourself. I look after myself. I never think I'm going to get worse so I don't consider the worst case scenario.
NRS Healthcare: What advice would you give to someone who has just been diagnosed with Glaucoma?
Beatrice: You've got to stay positive otherwise you'll end up going downhill. The older you get, the more you've got to fight.