Despite living for decades with a Pterygium in his right eye, Jack had no reason to suspect he was one of 50,000 kiwis unaware they are living with glaucoma.
Jack associated any deterioration in his sight to his pterygium or natural aging and like many of us, he wore hobby glasses to help with reading.
Jack was in a supermarket when he noticed that the fluorescent lights made his eye feel watery and his vision became blurry. He was referred to an eye specialist who told him bleakly, “I can fix the pterygium, but you have a far bigger problem… Glaucoma.”
Jack had heard of glaucoma but didn’t realise how serious it is, and certainly had no idea at this stage of how it was about to impact not only his life, but that of his family too.
“Life became inconvenient and challenging as I realised that I must rely on others to go anywhere or do the things I took for granted while I had my sight.”
For the majority of his life, Jack had worked as a Store man/driver and passing his vision test for his driver’s license had never been an issue. This time was different. He had glaucoma, and it took two, very long, stressful months to receive the letter from the Waka Kotahi NZTA to confirm that Jack would never drive again – day or night.
His workplace found him another role where he wasn’t required to drive, however this change also came with reduced hours and income. He reflected, “My whole life was turned upside down.” His wife dropped him off at work at 7.30am, picked him up at lunch time, dropped him home, went back to work herself.
Jack is telling his story in the hope that you will encourage your families and friends to get an eye health check today from their local Optometrist.
“I never thought it would affect me. It’s not in my family. I am the bloke in the posters that try to show what life with a disease looks like…. I look normal, my life and future were great, and I thought hobby glasses were improving my vision. An eye health test would have saved my job, my independence, my vision.”
With the help of his eye care specialists, and support from Glaucoma New Zealand, his family and friends, Jack has started to adapt to life with glaucoma. He is working full time, eye drops have his eye pressure under control, and he’s found a way to get a little independence using his e-bike to head to the tracks on his day off.