Angela wisely had an eye health check in her 40s that has saved her sight as she was diagnosed early in her journey with glaucoma.

Four years ago, I headed to Specsavers for a routine eye test after feeling that I may need reading glasses, only to find out that I had glaucoma. I was referred to a specialist for further scans, which confirmed the high pressures but no change to the optic nerve.

As I found the initial diagnosis extremely overwhelming & following a discussion with my specialists, I decided to delay treatment.  Looking back, I can see how little I knew about the seriousness of this disease & the potential impact it could have on my quality of life and family. I was also completely unaware of the hereditary risk factors for developing glaucoma.

A couple of years later, I noticed a change in my vision. I contacted the eye clinic immediately, and tests confirmed that my glaucoma had progressed.

My initial reaction was fear; however, I believe knowledge is power, so I committed to learning about glaucoma, laser treatment, surgeries, research & eye drops. I read books and websites from back to front.

I want to tell my story and encourage others to share theirs with friends, family, and Glaucoma New Zealand, as communication and knowledge about glaucoma are essential.

During my investigations to know more, I discovered that my sister and aunt also have glaucoma, and because of this, my specialist insisted that we start treatment immediately.

Last December, I had laser surgery and waited optimistically for a positive result, but I was devastated and heartbroken when the outcome was not good. I felt grief-stricken, anxious, dealing with the side effects of the eye drops and questioning everything. What will life be like? This is an older adult’s disease; how could I have it now? Why did my laser surgery fail? What does this mean for my children? The reality was that it was too hard to face the consequences of vision loss until that moment.

Although I have found this diagnosis extremely confronting, learning there is help and support from Glaucoma New Zealand has been comforting and helpful, which can only happen from continued investment. “Eye believe” there is always hope. Angela O’Leary.

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