If you’re newly diagnosed with glaucoma, the chances are that until now glaucoma has not been a major concern for you – and it may be a shock to get a diagnosis out of the blue. But it’s important to take action at this time.
Medical treatment can help you preserve your eyesight. Taken regularly, eye drops or tablets will lower the pressure in your eye and keep it under control to reduce the potential for the disease to progress.
You may feel there’s a lot to take on board all at once. But there’s plenty of support out there so you don’t have to go it alone.
And remember, although damage from glaucoma cannot be reversed, keeping your eye pressure under control is key. You’ll probably need to take medication for the rest of your life. But it’s worth it – as it can be effective in slowing the progress of glaucoma and saving useful sight.
Living with a health problem can affect more than just your physical wellbeing. In many cases, it can also take its toll on your emotions, making you feel anxious, stressed or sometimes a bit low. Here are some ways to help reduce the burden:
Talk about it
Glaucoma is a serious condition, so it’s natural for you to feel concerned about the future and whether your sight will deteriorate.
But if you can bring yourself to talk over your worries with your partner or someone else close to you, you may find it makes a big difference to your feelings of anxiety.
Finding ways to relax can make a big difference to how you cope with your condition. Here are some ideas you might want to try:
- Treat your body with respect by making a special effort to eat properly and get enough sleep. Doing some exercise can also make you feel better about yourself and give you a more positive outlook on life.
- Try to cut back on stimulants like alcohol, caffeine and tobacco. These may provide short-term pleasure, but in the longer term they will make you feel even worse.
- Experiment with relaxation techniques – Many people find meditation and visualisation techniques extremely relaxing and that they put them in a positive frame of mind. A practical way to start is to buy a relaxation tape or CD. These are widely available from book or music shops. To a background of relaxing, unobtrusive music, you will be encouraged to slowly relax your body, and then focus on relaxing and positive thoughts.
- Indulge yourself now and then. Go for a massage or a pedicure. Being pampered by someone else can help you relax, release stored up tension and make you feel better about your life.
- Take time out to do things you enjoy, such as listening to music, sitting in the park or going to the cinema.
Getting a good night's sleep can do wonders for your feeling of wellbeing.
When you are worrying about your health, this can however, be easier said than done. If you can't sleep properly for a few nights in a row, or even longer, your symptoms could seem much worse.
If you're struggling to get to sleep, or find that you're waking up in the middle of the night, try our tips for a good night’s kip.
- Avoid eating or drinking too much close to bedtime, as this may make you want to go to the toilet in the middle of the night.
- Stay away from stimulants such as caffeine (including chocolate), alcohol and tobacco in the evening. These will stimulate your nervous system and make it hard for you to drop off.
- Check your non-prescription medicines as these may contain caffeine or pseudoephedrine, which will keep you awake.
- Get some exercise to ease stress and help you relax, so you don't lie there worrying about things when you should be asleep.
- Relaxation and breathing techniques can be beneficial, helping you to let go of anxieties that may prevent you from falling asleep.
If you still can't get to sleep, it may be worth talking to your doctor or practice nurse, as it could be a sign of another medical problem.
Sometimes a helping hand is all you need to get you off on the right track to living with glaucoma. A good place to start may be with the NHS and Social Services – these can provide a number of services to make your life a little easier.
If you need equipment, such as low vision aids (LVAs), speak to your ophthalmologist as there may be a hospital department that can provide these. There are lots of gadgets available to help people with impaired vision, such as talking watches or telephones with large numbers – contact the RNIB for advice.
For other equipment, such as a wheelchair or walking frame, the occupational therapy department of your local Social Services office can sometimes lend items out and help you to adapt your home.
Ask at your GP surgery to find how you can get referred to Social Services providers in your area.
Telling your employer
If you are employed, being diagnosed with a long-term health problem like glaucoma can affect your job. If you would like to – or need to – continue working normally, you may be concerned about what to say to your employer.
You might worry that being open and honest about your condition at work may mean you will be forced into early retirement or passed up for promotion. However, if your condition isn't completely debilitating, there is no reason why you shouldn't continue to work. Telling your employer is a good way of ensuring you get the support you need to make working as easy as possible.
This is especially true if you are going to have to go to lots of hospital appointments during work time or your responsibilities or working hours need to change slightly to suit your capabilities. It can also help with small but often important things, such as what floor you work on or the chair you use. You may even find that you are eligible for a greater number of sick days than usually allowed by your employer.
If you have any concerns about your rights, it may be worth seeking legal advice, speaking to your union representative or contacting a Citizens Advice Bureau before saying anything to your employer. They should also be able to tell you whether you are protected by the Disability Discrimination Act, which protects the rights of people with disabilities. To find your local Citizens Advice Bureau, visit www.adviceguide.org.uk or look in your local phone book under 'C'.
Support groups & charities
Where can I get help?
1. The International Glaucoma Association is a charity which offers advice and support to people with glaucoma.
Contacting the IGA may help you to understand and manage your glaucoma better. It can also put you in touch with your local support group.
You can call the IGA’s telephone helpline, Sightline, on 01233 648170 (Monday to Friday 9.30am to 5pm); email email@example.com or write to the IGA at Woodcote House, 15 Highpoint Business Village, Henwood, Ashford, Kent TN24 8D or visit the IGA’s website at www.glaucoma-association.com
2. The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) can also offer support, advice, information on financial benefits and products you may need if you have glaucoma.
Call the RNIB helpline on 0303 123 9999 (Monday to Friday 8.45am to 6.00pm and Saturday 9.00am to 4.00pm), email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the RNIB website at www.rnib.org.uk
3. The NHS Choices website (www.nhs.uk) has information on all aspects of glaucoma including who is eligible for and where to get NHS eye tests. It also has a tool to help you find your local visual impairment support services.
Please note contact details are for information only and are correct at time of this website going live. Pfizer is not responsible for the content of external websites.
CA/SS/NON/0097 Date of preparation May 2013
Was the information on this page helpful?