Friday, May 2, 2014

Glaucoma: Watch Out For A False Negative Diagnosis

Dale Matson

About a year and a half ago I began to notice vision problems in my right eye. It was as if I was looking through a dirty screen door at the world outside. There were also very subtle minor periodic changes in my balance. I later learned this was due to the loss of peripheral vision in my right eye.

I went to my Optometrist who conducted the usual tests for visiual field, acuity and took pictures of my optic nerve. His conclusion was that I was suffering from “dry eyes”. He asked me if I was taking an antihistamine and I said, “Yes”. “This will dry out your eyes”, he said. I took eye drops for a few months and the symptoms did not improve. I went back and after reexamination, he told me I had a torn vitreous but I would get used to it. A torn vitreous is common for older people. After a few more months my vision seemed to be getting worse so I thought it was time for a second opinion. My grandfather had also suffered from glaucoma.

 I was given a name of an ophthalmologist from a friend. It turned out that this person specialized in macular degeneration. She referred me to a glaucoma specialist after our appointment. After examining my eyes, he told me my right eye had a pressure of 30, double the 15 in my left eye. He recommended Laser Trabeculoplasty to allow the fluid to drain better out of the front of the eyes. I had the procedure done two days later and have been using eye drops once a day in each eye at night.

The higher pressure resulted in damage to the optic nerve that cannot be reversed. It has been difficult to accept this vision loss and I believe I am still grieving from it. Driving would not be possible if I only had the sight of my right eye. I have some suggestions for those of you who are reading this.

1.     If you have a family history of glaucoma, be aware that you are more at risk than those with no family history of glaucoma.
2.     If you begin experiencing vision problems in one eye, find an ophthalmologist as soon as possible. Get a second opinion if you are currently seeing an eye doctor who attributes your vision problems to dryness or aging.
3.     Reading glasses still help ‘near vision’ acuity even with glaucoma.
4.     Colored lenses can help with contrast for glaucoma and reduce the increased sunlight glare because of glaucoma.
5.     Even distance vision can be helped somewhat with corrected lenses. I had perfect vision for distance previously.
6.     If you are a swimmer, do not use individual eye goggles, which increase eye pressure.
7.     Wear eye protection when working to avoid further damage to either eye.
8.     Weight lifting increases intraocular pressure.

You know your own body and you are responsible for it. If there is a problem don’t stop until you get an answer.

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