Back in August, 2016, Michelle Cochrane wrote a deeply moving and enlightening blog post about her experience as a young person with glaucoma. What follows is a shortened version of that post, as Michelle shares her story with Glaucoma Research Foundation and its many members and donors.
I am about to share with you something very personal, something that I didn’t want people to know until a few years ago. This always bothered me, even if I dealt with it silently. I have only shared this with close family and friends, or people who had enough confidence to ask me.
When you think of glaucoma, you probably think of your grandmother or grandfather. Someone older, right? Wrong!
I was born with a cataract. At six weeks old, I went in for my first emergency surgery and was in recovery for months. All totaled, I had two major surgeries and ten general anaesthetics within a year. Unfortunately, they were unable to save any sight in my right eye, and ever since then I’ve been completely blind in that eye.
Then, when I was nine, my parents took me to see a movie. I was enjoying the movie until I had an sudden onset of severe pain in my right eye along with an incredibly horrible migraine and flashes of light, pain I couldn’t even describe to my parents. We walked out halfway through the movie so that they could get me to an ophthalmologist immediately.
I was ultimately diagnosed with glaucoma in my right eye, and told I would be taking eye drops every day for the rest of my life with regular eye tests every six months–more often if the pain persisted.
To explain the pain I get each time my eye pressure rises, it feels sort of like a migraine, except the pain radiates from behind my eye in short, sharp bursts. The only thing I want to do when I get this pain is close my eyes, put a blanket over my head and sit in the dark until it goes away. The only real thing that stops this pain is to take my eye drops.
It is extremely rare to have this debilitating disease in just one eye. Most often it manifests in both eyes, which is why I am constantly being monitored to ensure that my left eye is still ok. I have been told many of times by all of my specialists that I am extremely lucky.
I thought it would be nice to share my story to help some people understand me, and maybe help a few other people talk about the things that used to bother them… you never know who your story might touch, who it might help, and who it might make smile.
I also think it is of huge importance to educate the people around you on conditions such as these. They are not as rare as you think. In fact, glaucoma is showing up more and more frequently in younger generations. No one knows why, and there is no cure yet. But there are many, many people dedicated to researching a way to solve this puzzle, and that’s the main thing!
At Glaucoma Research Foundation, we’re honored to know about Michelle’s journey and truly inspired by her commitment to give back to the glaucoma community. Consider donating to GRF to support research that will help glaucoma patients like Michelle.
First posted on March 31, 2017; Reviewed on May 13, 2022
Michelle Cochrane is a passionate writer and blogger who writes about marketing, travel, cooking, health & fitness, and her personal struggles with glaucoma. She lives in Australia.