a man taking the hand of a woman to support her as she walks

As a baby, Rose’s daughter Gabrielle was treated at Moorfields for glaucoma. Her doctors and nurses worked hard to make sure that she could have a normal, happy childhood.

Rose gave birth to Gabrielle in 1993.Her other daughter, Tanya, was excited to have a new sibling to play with. 

During routine checks, one of the doctors was concerned about Gabrielle’s eyes. Two weeks later, they went to Great Ormond Street Hospital to remove a cataract in her eye. 

Soon after, Gabrielle was diagnosed with congenital glaucoma.

What is congenital glaucoma?

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Congenital glaucoma is a type of glaucoma that affects babies and children. Some people are born with it, while others develop it during childhood.

It is sometimes referred to as paediatric’ or juvenile’ glaucoma.

It occurs when high pressure damages the delicate nerve fibres in the optic nerve which carry signals from the eyes to the brain.

This high pressure is caused by having too much liquid inside the eyeball. It’s usually because the drainage channel inside the eye has not formed properly inside the womb, or because it has become blocked by inflammation inside the eye.

Congenital glaucoma is rare but it can cause young people to lose some of their eyesight.

1 in 20,000

About 1 in 20,000 children are born with glaucoma, or develop it in childhood

Most children and young people with congenital glaucoma need an eye operation and eye drops to bring the pressure inside their eye down and prevent sight loss.

This was the beginning of something no parent could be prepared for,” Rose explains. We didn’t know back then that Gabrielle would have to endure many more procedures to control the pressure in her eye.”

Gabrielle’s treatment at Moorfields

At the age of three, Gabrielle was a specialist glaucoma clinic at Moorfields Eye Hospital. Gabrielle went to the clinic every week. 

She quickly learned to climb into the adult sized examining chairs, balancing on her knees to rest her chin on the bar ready for a check up.

Gabrielle’s condition was extremely rare and doctors had to find a way to manage the pressure in her eye to save her sight. They put her on a course of eye drops, which worked for a while, but by the age of five she needed another operation. 

Despite the surgery, the pain and thousands of eye drops, Gabrielle always remained positive, thanks partly to the warmth of the Moorfields welcome.

Growing up without limits

The doctors and nurses at Moorfields taught Gabrielle to manage her condition so that she could live life to the full. 

The team supported her throughout school and her appointments were fitted around her studies and travel. 

And as Gabrielle grew older, she learned how to ride horses – a life long passion that helped her get her through the bad times and the good.