Prevention of Glaucoma ... An Article About Glaucoma Part 2 ...

This article about glaucoma Part 2 is a continuation

Everyone 50 and over should have annual tests to screen for glaucoma.

The disease is irreversible but research is under way to find ways to restore the nerves lost using stem cells. The research is at the preliminary stages and "there are many, many steps" before it results in treatments.

Mr Fong's glaucoma was detected at a very early stage and his optic nerve was slightly damaged, but the visual field (the range within which objects are visible to the eye without moving the head) was intact. Mr Fong uses his medication religiously.

He decided then that if he were to go blind, he wanted to learn to read a book in Chinese before losing his sight. And he has managed to do just that.

He thinks "reading is good for the eyes". He uses a magnifying glass if the characters are small, but "other than that, I'm fine".

If you catch glaucoma early, then controlling it means you are protecting what vision you have.

Mr Fong has no patience with self-pitying glaucoma sufferers who resign themselves to inevitable blindness. He acknowledges that "the greatest fear is going blind, but if you haven't reached that stage, don't pre-empt it by acting as if you are".

"After seven years, any doctor who looks at my eye will say that it is an advanced stage of glaucoma, but that doesn't prevent me from driving, and that doesn't prevent me from reading a book."

He treats his ailment with two types of eye drops. One is a topical carbonic annydrase inhibitor, which reduces the production of fluid. The other is a prostaglandin analogue, which increases drainage of fluid from the eye. He has a check-up every four or five months.

He steers clear of any activity that would increase the pressure in the eye, avoiding exercise that requires the head to be below heart level. Taking one's medication is the most important thing, he said. "Medication is expensive, gives a bit of blurring vision and causes my eye to sting a little bit sometimes."

His eye drops cost around $70 a month. He applies the drops four times a day to his left eye and twice a day to his right.

He said that in his left eye, he has "50 per cent zero vision, 20 per cent partial vision and 30 per cent acceptable clear vision". In his right eye, he has "10 per cent zero vision, 30 per cent partial vision and 60 per cent acceptable clear vision".

He has various degrees of clarity at various points and his eyes' response differs to light intensity, colour and shade. "You could say that it is like waking up in the morning and you feel that daylight comes later each year as glaucoma progresses. The leaves on the tree outside my window are a darker green now compared with a livelier, fresher and brighter green years ago. Mr Fong suggests that glaucoma not be treated just as a disease, but as a condition that has to be managed. He advises those with the ailment to prove to themselves that they can do things normally, and when the time comes to take a step back, do it, but make it a small step back.

He stresses that his eyes still function reasonably well. “I can still drive a car, see beautiful things and read the newspapers."

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