Comedian Georgie Morrell was diagnosed with glaucoma when she was just three years old. Read her story, in her own words, here.
I am here to tell you it does and can affect anyone of any age and we should not forget this. I was three years old and I can tell you that it is ever present, and I live with its effects and experience them every day.
When I was three years old I turned to my dad and said, “My knees hurt.” Not my eyes. My knees. Within days I went from an ordinary, tiny, rather inquisitive three-year-old to what my dad called, “A withdrawn animal.”
Allow me to give some context. I was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis at three. This led to uveitis (inflammation of the eye) and soon enough glaucoma joined the party.
Glaucoma is often a condition associated with the elderly. I believe it is often dismissed for this reason, but more so because you can’t see glaucoma – no pun intended. There are no lumps, wounds or X-rays. I am here to tell you it does and can affect anyone of any age and we should not forget this. I was three years old and I can tell you that it is ever present, and I live with its effects and experience them every day.
I had the most spectacular treatment by our brilliant NHS. The doctors acted so quickly to try to stop the conditions from progressing, but despite their best efforts by the time I was four I was diagnosed with uveitis and secondary glaucoma. I became the first seven-year-old child to have a trabeculectomy (an operation to lower the eye pressure). However, with all the determination in the world, my left eye gave up and slowly lost its sight. We felt it best to focus on the right eye and retain the sight there rather than fight for the eye that could no longer be saved.
At age 21 the pressure in my right eye plummeted for no reason, detaching my retina. I was left blind for a year. That is the other complication with glaucoma: the pressure can go the other way and a retina can simply pop off. I was once again very lucky and, after much deliberation with more remarkable doctors, I have my eye back and the sight that I had lost is nearly all restored. This was nothing short of a miracle.
My glaucoma is managed now by a shunt – a tube in the back of my eye. This was a terrific procedure as it gave me some freedom and peace of mind. It mechanically controls my pressure, like a plumber fitting a pipe to a faulty sink. It really is about good plumbing! I can rest knowing that, along with my eye drops and six-monthly appointments, I can get on with living and not be plagued by paranoia that the worst will happen.
I’m determined to raise more awareness of this condition. It can go undetected for years and then the damage is done. It affects the young and the old and nobody is immune to it. Just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it’s not there.