What? I was the patient, sitting in the exam chair at my last eye exam shaking my head. My optometrist, and two other ophthalmologists were all trying to tell me the same thing, after being evaluated four different times over a year and a half time period. But this time was different.
Even though I didn’t have any symptoms, my risk factors and signs where not going away, and I knew that I could not keep ignoring them and blowing them off. My diagnosis was definitely normal tension glaucoma. My sight was under attack… without my eye pressure being elevated. How sneaky!
I made up my mind right then, that I was not going to just sit there and do nothing and let this silent, thief steal my sight! I have seen this happen over the years to many of my own patients who were not compliant with the glaucoma treatment plans that I had given them. I was going to fight back, do my part, and trust God with my sight.
Before that moment, I was totally in denial. Previously, I did not want to accept this diagnosis. “How can I have glaucoma?” I had thought all year. “My eye pressure is fine, and I don’t have any peripheral visual field loss.”
I know very well that I am at high risk for glaucoma because I am African American and over the age of 40. (Did I just say that?) My mother’s mother went blind from glaucoma. My dad is almost blind from glaucoma. I am nearsighted, and I know that the front surface of my eyes (my corneas) are thin. Even with all of these risk factors glaring me in the face, I still did not want to acknowledge it.
My diagnosis is based on all of these factors, and the fact that my optic nerve is thin in both eyes. The optic nerve in my left eye is thinner than the one in my right eye. I had seen that on my retinal photo earlier, but I had said, “Maybe I was just born like that.”
My OCT retinal scan also shows that I have lost a significant amount of retinal nerve fibers in my left eye. I had also seen that when I had this scan run over a year ago. I said, “Well, maybe that was a bad scan.” Six months later the same results showed up. Now a year later, the same thing! “Noooo! This can’t be true,” I thought. “I am the one who treats glaucoma in my patients.”
Enough of that nonsense. My faith is stronger than my fear. I acknowledge what has happened. I will be compliant with my medical treatment plans, I will keep my regular doctor visits, and thank God, I will continue to see well the rest of my life, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
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