The diagnosis was a real blow
Elisabeth, 61 years old
“At first I was afraid of having a glaucoma attack. I always paid very close attention, and if I noticed even minor changes I'd wonder whether something was wrong with my eye. That has improved over time.”
I went to an optician a few years ago to order glasses. There I was told that my vision was impaired. The optician advised me to go to an eye doctor and have my eyes checked.
The eye doctor I went to explained that the lens of my eye had become thicker. She thought that that was making it difficult for the fluid in my eye to drain. I didn’t really think about it much at first. She said she would write a report and referred me to an eye clinic.
At some point I received her report. But I couldn't understand it at all because of the medical jargon. I didn’t know what it meant, so I started feeling worried. I went to a different eye doctor to get a second opinion. He examined my eyes again and confirmed that the lens was thicker than normal, and that I had a narrow drainage angle. He explained to me that if this angle keeps getting smaller and eventually closes, the fluid in my eye won't be able to drain out. If that happens, the pressure in my eye could increase suddenly and cause what's known as a glaucoma attack. If worse comes to worst, this would cause me to go blind. The doctor told me that symptoms of this kind of attack include things like suddenly seeing rings and rainbow colors, and a sudden, severe headache. If that happens, I should go to a hospital straight away. But my optic nerves aren’t damaged, and I don’t have any loss of my field of vision or any other problems.
They recommended that I have surgery to allow the fluid in my eye to drain better. But I was scared about the possible side effects and decided against it. I keep close watch over myself and my body, and I would go to a doctor right away if I ever had any symptoms like a severe headache or seeing rings. But that hasn’t happened yet.
After I was diagnosed with glaucoma, I read up about it on the internet a bit, and I saw that there was a glaucoma support group in my town. I got in touch with them and felt very welcome when I joined the group. Talking to other people in the group was – and still is – important for me, and I feel very happy there.
I see a doctor regularly to have my eyes checked every three months or so. They measure the pressure in my eye, check the optic nerve, and measure my field of vision and drainage angle. I found it important to consult different doctors and get different opinions so I could figure out the best way to deal with it. A good atmosphere is really important to me when I see a doctor, and I need to feel like they’re really listening to me and taking me seriously.
I've always been very ambitious and have always wanted to do everything perfectly. Being diagnosed with glaucoma was a real blow. I saw it as a sign that I had to change something in my life. In the past I always worked a lot, and enjoyed it too. But I was never really able to really rest and relax. That's when I said to myself: "Take care of yourself now. This is a sign." I find it important to make sure that I rest and relax now. For instance, I’ve started to meditate and also do qigong and yoga, which is good for me. But I’ll admit I found it difficult to relax more and take more time for myself at first. Of course it doesn’t always work out, and I’m not always relaxed, but I try to live my life differently now.
At first I was afraid of having a glaucoma attack. I always paid very close attention, and if I noticed even minor changes I'd wonder whether something was wrong with my eye. That’s improved over time. I’ve sort of got used to it.
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Please note: The names of our interview partners have been changed to protect their identity. The photos are of models.