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Kate’s story

Kate* has been having treatment for her glaucoma since 1995. She feels it’s important for people to speak out if they are unhappy with the care they are receiving, and that they should also acknowledge and praise the positive aspects of care.

(*Name has been changed to protect the author’s privacy.)

I felt that I was seen as a ‘case’ and not a person.

I was diagnosed with glaucoma in 1995 during a routine eye test. I was given some information about glaucoma, and I also picked up a glaucoma UK leaflet at the hospital. Although it’s not a disease that runs in my family, I knew someone else who had it. I felt okay.

In July 2021, I had a very negative experience at the routine glaucoma clinic I attended. I felt that I was seen as a ‘case’ and not a person. This was solely because of the dismissive attitude of the consultant I saw. They didn’t even introduce themselves or tell me their name. The nursing staff and other care professionals were a delight and always introduced themselves. But the consultant was rude and treated me in a very off-handed way. They seemed to have an apparent lack of interest in what I had to say and my questions. I may as well have been a computer programme. I wrote to the head consultant and pointed out these shortcomings. It took over two months to receive a response and the incident is now being investigated. I’ve since been transferred to another clinic nearer to home, at my request, and my next appointment is in January 2022.

I’m hoping that my experience at the first clinic was a one-off! But I do think it’s important that we report these issues if we feel that we are being sidelined or not listened to. I also think it’s vital that health care professionals remember they are dealing with a person, not a research case or computer programme. There is a human being behind the dodgy eyes!

My treatment plan has involved eye drops, trabeculectomies in both eyes and needling in one. My experience with surgery led me to become a buddy for the glaucoma UK buddy scheme. It’s a service which pairs people up for a chat with someone who has first-hand experience of the treatment that’s been recommended. I speak to people who may feel nervous about having a trabeculectomy. I’m very happy to share my personal experience of glaucoma surgery and to give information to others who may have questions about it because on the whole, my experiences have been very positive.