Glaucoma patient Stephanie Handler talks about discovering she had glaucoma in this video from 2011. Since then she has become a passionate patient advocate and volunteer, encouraging others to get their eyes tested for glaucoma. Stephanie reached out to Glaucoma Research Foundation when she was newly diagnosed, and found information and support to help her learn more and understand her diagnosis.
Stephanie Handler: I found out that I have glaucoma after discovering my that my vision was blurred in my left eye, and I discovered that through a meeting that I’d had with a life coach who ironically was trying to help me gain greater vision in life, and she had asked me through a series of exercises to cover one of my eyes.
I was covering my right eye and that’s when I discovered that the vision in my left eye was blurred. I’ve always had 20/20 vision, I’ve always had perfect vision, so it’s not something that I could really detect when looking from both eyes.
So I made an appointment immediately and when the doctors first told me that I was diagnosed with glaucoma I actually did not believe them. I saw an optometrist and an ophthalmologist and they both told me I had glaucoma and I still didn’t believe them, until I saw the glaucoma specialist the next day, and it finally sunk in that I have chronic disease that I’m going to have to live with the rest of my life.
Dr. A. Sydney Williams, MD: Glaucoma goes undiagnosed in a great number of patients throughout the world, but especially in America. Glaucoma affects three or four million Americans; at least one million go undiagnosed presently. It’s important to get your eye checks, and it’s certainly important if you had not had an eye check by age 40 that you, even if your eyes are healthy, get screened and checked for glaucoma.
Stephanie: I think the thing that motivated me the most about wanting to share my story is that fact that more than 1.5 million people go undiagnosed in the United States, and I just think that number is too high. And I am hoping to at least inspire hopefully more than one person to get their eyes checked. Being a glaucoma patient I think it’s important, like any disease, to control it to take the medication regularly as your doctor prescribes. And so, do I want to take eye drops? No, but I do to preserve the pressure in my eye, and hopefully sustain it, and hopefully my vision will be the way that it is for the rest of my life.
I would encourage anybody watching this to educate themselves about glaucoma and go to glaucoma.org and donate if you can, just to further progress the research that’s going towards this disease.
This article was first published on November 16, 2011.