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Lifestyle changes: glaucoma schlaucoma.

When I went to the optometrist to get prescription contact lenses a half year ago, the doctor recorded my eye pressure and suggested I see an eye specialist. He proclaimed that my eye pressure was higher than normal. Seeing that he didn’t present it with a sense of urgency, I held off further checkups.

A couple months later, I had dinner with a nurse friend of mine who said that I should immediately seek an ophthalmologist; untreated intraocular pressure could lead to blindness, she said.

So I finally went to one. It was the same Doctor Wu that I went to for my prescription glasses years ago. The same place where I revealed my 10 years of cheating on eye exams to my mom. Needless to say, I wasn’t very thrilled to be there.

The exam results were, well, intimidating. My eye pressure was evidently very high for my age. Typical eye pressure ranges from 7-21, with younger people having lower numbers. My pair of eyes showed 27 on the right and 25 on the left, respectively. Afterward, I took two field vision tests to check my peripheral vision strength. I also happened to have papillary conjunctivitis. My eyes reject soft contact lenses; miniature boba-shaped bumps form underneath my eyelids that irritate and worsen my vision. I left the office scared and depressed.

Papillary Conjunctivitis. Luckily, mine wasn’t as prominent or large as these.

For the next couple months, I revisited the ophthalmologist five times for additional tests. I performed two more field vision tests, and the results were as I feared: the upper right quadrant of my left eye has lost a bit of vision. I had started to become blind. Each of my eye pressure results have ranged from 23-28 on either eye.

Doctor Wu then prescribed me medical eye drops and declared me a glaucoma patient. I was subsequently asked to make several changes to my life: being in well lit environments, limiting my intake of salt, and limiting the quantity of water I drink in a short amount of time. These were easy changes for me, except the last request: to cease anaerobic workouts (lifting weights, quick burst workouts like jumping rope). I was to insert one drop into each eye at 8am and 8pm every day for the rest of my life.

This post has been a couple weeks overdue, as I’ve been taking the medication for nearly two weeks now. I’m steadily becoming used to this lifestyle change. The daily medication is a hindrance, but it’s not completely unbearable. This isn’t all Debbie downer, for my eyes are receiving the medication very positively. The pressure now hovers around 14-16, which is a healthy comparison from the original peak. My eyes no longer feel like exploding out of my socket. I still continue to lift weights and perform strenuous tasks that raise my blood pressure; it’s a lifestyle that I simply cannot give up.

There is no cure for glaucoma, only treatment. However, I’ve learned that advanced medicine has changed the perception of glaucoma patients. Whereas having glaucoma 30 years ago meant shedding tears and enjoying the last couple years of vision, it’s not too bad today. Doctor Wu said, had I left my eyes untreated, I would have gone blind at ~50-55 years of age. Because I continuously went back to her for additional check ups and am now a prescribed patient, I have delayed the blindness to perhaps 95 years of age. I don’t plan on living that long, so I’m okay with the predictions.

Glaucoma schlaucoma. No big deal.

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