Wednesday, September 7, 2011

5 books about glaucoma

List by Tosca

"He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed."
- Albert Einstein

Four years ago I made an optometrist appointment. It wasn't meant to be anything more than an annual check up to make sure my eyes were in good health and that I didn't need stronger glasses. Imagine my surprise when I was told by my optometrist that they suspected I might have glaucoma. It was unexpected. And I did not react well. In an effort to understand what, until now, had merely been a word I'd read in a book, I interrogated the poor doctor seven ways from Sunday. In some ways that was a waste of time because the only words I heard over and over were 'blindness' and optic nerves' and 'damaged.' We agreed that I'd come back in a week for another appointment and put my eyes through every possible test we could to make sure it wasn't an anomaly.

I was terrified. And shocked. Strangely, the first thing to pass through my mind was, 'What if I'm never able to physically see my nephews again?' It was a sobering thought. I remember the train ride home was interminably long and, yet, not long enough. I spent the whole ride home seesawing between outright crying (egads, I think I scared a few people) and puzzling through what, exactly, glaucoma was, and how it would change my life. I had a week to figure it out and to try to get my head around it all. So I did what I always do - stopped at my local library. I wanted to make sure that when I next saw my optometrist I would know what to expect, what to ask and what options were available to me. It was a very long seven days until my visit but I learned some very crucial facts about glaucoma: your peripheral (side vision) is affected first; damage is progressive; optic nerve damage is permanent; glaucoma often goes undetected until it's reached an advanced state; blindness can be prevented if detected early; ongoing treatment is vital; it is not an old person's disease; people do go on to lead full lives even with glaucoma. That last bit, in particular, I wasn't so sure about but a few days later my manager asked me, 'How are you?' and it all bubbled up and came spilling out. Weirdly (or maybe it was fate, call it what you will), she told me of her sibling who had been diagnosed with glaucoma and was, she assured me, living life full tilt. That suddenly gave meaning to all of the theory and put it in context for me. I was armed to the teeth with information by the time I met my doctor again where, surprisingly, I was given the all clear. They put it down to my eyes having an off day. However, for my own peace of mind (and health), I go back for a yearly check up still. If there is a chance that I do end up with glaucoma, I want it detected as soon as possible, and I want to make sure that I'm as theoretically prepared as I can be.

It sounds incredibly hokey but these days I don't take my vision for granted. I try to 'see' - really see - as much as I can, wherever I am, whatever I'm doing. I like to think (and this is nothing more than romantic whimsy, really) that I see everything and everyone a little bit differently since. This isn't one of my 'definitive top 5' lists so much as it is a simple list of 5 books that can help you should you find yourself in the same situation.

Websites that may help:
  • Glaucoma NZ
  • Glaucoma Research Foundation

  • Glaucoma : a patient's guide to the disease / Graham E. Trope (2011)
    Essential information about glaucoma and its treatment is presented here in a simple question and answer format to allow patients to participate actively in the decision-making process along the road to successful maintenance of their vision.

    Glaucoma : what every patient should know / Harry A. Quigley (2011)
    "You or a member of your family has been told that you have glaucoma Or, you have had glaucoma for some time and are concerned that the treatment you’re receiving isn't right for you. To help you answer the many questions about this common eye disease, I wrote this guide to give authoritative answers, easily understood explanations, helpful suggestions, and life-style advice. It won’t matter if you are not a medical specialist, since the guide is written in plain English. Most glaucoma patients retain good vision and live a normal life. The solutions given here can take the stress out of dealing with glaucoma and should maximize the chance that no further injury to your ability to see will occur" -- Foreword.

    Glaucoma, patient to patient : a coping guide for you and your family / Edith Marks (2010)
    "Glaucoma isn’t just an old person’s disease. Upwards of 65 million people worldwide suffer from glaucoma. It is the second most prevalent yet preventable cause of blindness. Edith Marks , an expert who has spent thirty years studying and living with this disease follows her ground breaking book, Coping with Glaucoma with the revised and expanded Glaucoma, Patient to Patient. What you don’t know can blind you. What you learn from this book will save your sight." -- Publisher's description.

    Living with glaucoma / Mark Watts (2006)
    Glaucoma is when side vision is gradually lost, leading to tunnel vision and sometimes complete loss of sight. This book covers what glaucoma is; types of glaucoma at different ages; risk factors for developing glaucoma (age, race, family history, blood pressure, diabetes); and treatment.

    What your doctor may not tell you about glaucoma : the essential treatments and advances that could save your sight / Gregory Harmon with Nancy Intrator; edited by Catherine Wang (c2004)
    An insidious disease, glaucoma is often misunderstood and is the leading cause of preventable blindness. Helps to dispel the myths surrounding the disease and inform readers as to the truth about glaucoma. Divided into three accessible sections, the book takes readers through the most common methods of treatment, and explores cutting-edge research and crucial new information on the effects of nutrition, exercise, and herbal medicine on glaucoma.

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