While glaucoma is typically a concern for people over the age of 40, there are rare instances where babies and young children are diagnosed with the disease.
One such child is Lucy. Diagnosed with glaucoma at just three months old and who in the intervening two and a bit years, has had two surgeries to combat its effects. In particular she struggles with depth perception at the moment.
What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is an eye disease that can result in your vision becoming blurred, leading into tunnel vision and light sensitivity, and can ultimately leading to complete blindness if diagnoses and treatment is delayed.
A family of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve which sends visual messages to the brain. It leads to the gradual loss of sight, beginning with peripheral vision (the ability to see things outside your direct line of vison). There is often no pain or discomfort associated with vision loss from glaucoma.
Glaucoma has two main categories – open-angle glaucoma and closed-angle glaucoma (which means?). Open-angle glaucoma is an issue of the fluid drainage in your eyes facing resistance, whereas closed-angle glaucoma is a complete blockage requires emergency intervention. All forms of the disease lead to intraocular pressure (pressure inside the eyes) that can damage the optic nerves.
Problems with drainage of fluid within the eyes also leads to glaucoma, which was the case with Lucy. This is because our eyes produce a liquid to clean the eye, nourish it and keep it in shape.
Denise, Lucy’s mother, is the first to admit that knowing what you’re up against, even though it can seem scary or imposing, can make the situation more manageable.
“[When the diagnosis came] my thoughts were relief, we finally knew what we were dealing with. I was pragmatic and had many questions.”
Making the appropriate adjustments to help Lucy flourish in her development can be difficult at times for Denise and her husband, largely because there is some guesswork as to what Lucy can or cannot see as situations are constantly changing.
“For me [one of the challenges] is not really knowing what Lucy can and can’t see until she can tell us, and working out what she needs help with and what we need to allow her to learn on her own without coddling her. There’s still that need for her to make mistakes she can learn from.”
Looking to the future
Through these challenges, Denise is constantly impressed by just how strong Lucy is.
“Children are so resilient. Lucy always surprises me with how she just gives everything a go in her own way.”
Together with her husband, Denise is working hard to provide a future for Lucy and has the following words of encouragement for other parents in their situation.
“Always love and encourage them to be the best version of themselves. It’s important to be thankful for what we have, rather than what we don’t.”
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