Clara Chan was diagnosed with glaucoma in 2019 after searching for answers to worrying facial pain. “I thought it was toothache when it started in 2018. Then I had increasing pain above my eye in my eyebrow. So next, I saw a neurosurgeon who found no cause for the pain. Then I suddenly found I had lost 80% of my sight from one eye, and it was finally diagnosed as glaucoma”.
This was a very traumatic time for Clara, she had little knowledge of how to manage her glaucoma. She discovered Glaucoma NZ, became a member and started to attend the Hamilton support group. However, when the COVID lockdowns started in 2020, the group needed a new volunteer coordinator, and Clara decided to take on the role . She was a bit nervous about taking it on, “I loved going to meetings and it was important for me when I was first diagnosed having somewhere I could go to get information and talk about having glaucoma. I did not want to see the meetings end, so I put my hand up”.
Since then, she’s been busy recruiting people in Hamilton with glaucoma and welcoming attendees of the support group. Clara has been working hard to promote the The Hamilton support group gives people in the Waikato with glaucoma an opportunity to come together, and share their experiences – it is also a great time to have a good chat, says Clara, the support group coordinator. Our support groups started up again in February. They’re a fantastic opportunity to share your experience, build connections, and get support from people who understand.
All dates and locations for the year can be found on our website support group page or free phoning our helpline 0800 452 826. Find your local support group meetings via Neighbourly, the Waikato Community News and placing flyer’s in optometrists waiting rooms.
She wants to ensure anyone diagnosed with glaucoma in the Waikato is informed, supported and know they have somewhere to go for answers. For Clara, the support group helped her feel less alone in her glaucoma journey. “I did not know anything about glaucoma, and I had no idea what I was facing or what I can and can’t do. It’s important to talk with people who can share their experience with you,” she says, “it is both reassuring and helpful”.
Clara Chan – Hamilton Support Group Volunteer Coordinator While the support group is a chance to be listened to and comforted, it’s also an opportunity to learn about new ways of managing glaucoma and maintaining vision.
The group share advice and ideas with one another, like how to travel and manage glaucoma treatment or how to go about driving with glaucoma. Being newly diagnosed with glaucoma can be an overwhelming and confusing experience, but with the support of those in a similar situation, it becomes easier. Most of all, the support group is a source of friendship for all those involved. “The group always has a warm welcome for everybody”.