I have what is called Normal Tension Glaucoma. It is an unusual form of glaucoma which usually manifests with elevated pressures in the eye. That high intra-occular pressure damages the optic nerve resulting in progressive loss of vision. In normal tension glaucoma, the pressures that are measured within the eye are within the range that is considered to be "normal." However, even though the pressures seem normal, the disk of the optic nerve, visible at the back of the eye, shows clear evidence of damage.
In the early stages of the disease, there are essentially no symptoms. One doctor described it as being in a room filled with 1000 lamps. If one lamp, here and there, gets switched off, odds are you won't notice -- unless you are looking right at it. The progressive loss of visual function is not easy to observe until the damage is well advanced.
I have been lucky to be monitored by very good eye doctors, and my glaucoma was detected very early. It has been watched carefully for many, many years, and has been "stable" for about four years. I don't notice that I have diminished vision, although the visual field tests that my doctor performs twice a year clearly show the damaged spots in my field of vision. He says that I have moderate to advanced damage... but it has been controlled by medication, and kept stable. Until today.
Today, my regular checkup showed progression in the damage visual on my visual fields test, and the measured pressures in both eyes are higher than they have been for years. Not dangerously high for a normal person, but too high for me. The recommendation is to increase and expand my use of three different prescription eye drops to try and bring the pressure back down. He'll check it again in about 3 weeks.
And then... He told me that he is moving his practice to another office, and limiting his hours to mornings only. There are other glaucoma specialists in the practice that I can see, but I am worried. I feel uncomfortable about losing this doctor (who is no charmer) because he is very good at what he does, and he has followed my case from the very beginning. It scares me.
I am shaken. Worried. Afraid of a future that I cannot control, and cannot avoid. Tonight, I want to sit in the light, write on my computer, watch the television, and look at the faces that I love. I feel, somehow, that I ought to remember, everyday, that I will not ALWAYS be able to do that. The things that I love; the things that fill my world with visual interest and joy -- they will be taken from me, bit by bit. And I cannot even begin to guess, how long I will have...