Doctor my eyes.....glaucoma in your early thirties.
June 14, 2006 8:43 AM   Subscribe

After getting a diagnosis of glaucoma (after being suspect for two years), the information I'm finding online is varying from "you're definitely going to go blind" to "it's nothing at all to worry about". I suspect the real answer is somewhere in between.

I am 32 years old, and have just been diagnosed with glaucoma. Being the geek I am, I immediately jump online to do research about the disease, and am getting wildly varying information about the lifelong impact.

I've been able to glean that I'll essentially need to commit to lifelong treatment, but what I'm looking for is advice on what to expect from others here who have been faced with a similar diagnosis.
posted by jcummings1974 to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
32 is awfully young. Did you get a second opinion?

I had the diagnosis too (because of high intraocular pressure), at about the same age. I used drops for several years. My current doctor took me off the drops to see what would happen. So far my eye pressure has not gone back up. Maybe it will go up again someday. Now I just have regular eye checkups and field vision test. Also, I had them take photos of my retinas (now that actually *hurt*, such a bright light was used).

I wouldn't stress about it, the impact is lifelong but relatively minor. Oh and there are some medication you should avoid, always check the labels.
posted by jockc at 9:23 AM on June 14, 2006

Thanks, yes this is actually a third opinion, and the tests to confirm have been fairly comprehensive (a 3D measurement of the optic nerve, etc.) It's not based solely on IOP readings.
posted by jcummings1974 at 9:45 AM on June 14, 2006

I was diagnosed two years (age 32) ago. I've got the kind that damages the optic nerve despite my pressures being well within "normal" range (thanks, genetics). My doc prescribed various first-line drops, settling after 1.5 years on a combination of Alphagan and Lumigan that brings the pressures down to levels that she's happy with.

My understanding is that this should slow down further damage to the optic nerve, to the extent that I shouldn't need to be concerned about its impact on my driving ability for a long while. She was a bit cagey when I asked her about time frames, which is understandable since it's difficult to predict how eyes will continue to respond to future treatment. I'm very glad to read about jockc's experience!

My doc (and many sites) recommends regular exercise to help lower pressures for some types of glaucoma.

Re lifelong impact, seems to me that since glaucoma affects peripheral vision, it would become a more serious problem if combined with macular degeneration (which affects central vision, usually affects the elderly rather than younger people, considered by the medical establishment to be part of the natural process of aging...though I personally know somebody who reversed her early-stage macular degeneration by juicing carrots and drinking the result every day, so I think for some people, diet can do more than conventional medicine allows).

On preview: yeah, pot is documented to lower eye pressures. Good suggestion. (Too bad I can't use it because of dry eye problems.)
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 10:26 AM on June 14, 2006

My doc, as the Kresge Eye Institute (which is known for treating glaucoma), said that previous docs who'd told me I was going blind, no matter what, sooner or later, were ignorant. He said if I kept up with the drops, did what I was told, I needn't loose more vision.

I love teaching hospitals, sometimes.
posted by QIbHom at 12:25 PM on June 14, 2006

I was diagnosed around 12 years ago (at 28). I've kept up with my bi-annual exams and my daily medication and have suffered no impairment to my vision. So no, you don't need to go blind if you treat the disease. There is also quite a bit of research going on with regard to glaucoma, and things believed as facts 10 years ago no longer are. (For example, high pressures alone aren't necessarily bad, and "normal" pressures aren't necessarily good.) Treatments and drugs are getting better too.
posted by AstroGuy at 1:20 PM on June 14, 2006

My mother and two aunts (my mother's sisters) all have glaucoma. My mother, diagnosed 8 years ago, keeps up with her eyedrops and gets regular eye exams. She has noticed NO change in her eyesight over the last 8 years (pretty notable for someone who is now 60!). One aunt, diagnosed 2 years after my mother, completely ignored the doctor's advice (not only did she not keep up with her treatment but she also continued to smoke and refused to wear sunglasses, etc.) and she is now legally (and functionally) blind. My other aunt, diagnosed in 1984, half-@ssed the drops and she now wears coke-bottle eyeglasses (that also may be a product of her diagnosis date and the treatment available then).

So. It looks like my anecdotal experience is in agreement with all the advice here.
posted by MeetMegan at 3:11 PM on June 14, 2006

Thanks for all the advice and comments. What's the deal with smoking and glaucoma? I don't smoke - but I'm unclear on the connection (aside from general health risks associated with smoking).
posted by jcummings1974 at 6:33 PM on June 14, 2006

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