William’s story: overcoming glaucoma with Moorfields
7 January 2020
William came to Moorfields after being diagnosed with glaucoma because he was struggling to get the right treatment. They gave him back his sight.
At a routine eye check up, William’s optician noticed he had some signs of glaucoma in his eye. After asking about his family history of the condition, she referred him to Croydon Hospital, where doctors confirmed William’s diagnosis – he had glaucoma.
What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a when damage to the optic nerve causes sight loss. It is usually caused by the pressure inside your eye rising too high.
Your eye is full of fluid, which helps it to keep its shape and function properly. If too much fluid builds up inside the eye, the pressure rises and squeezes the optic nerve at the back of the eye.
This can cause damage to your optic nerve - a bundle of over a million nerve fibres that carry signals between your eye and your brain.
Pressure might build up in the eye when:
- fluid is stopped from draining away;
- extra fluid is produced after an eye injury or infection - this is called ‘secondary glaucoma’;
- there is an abnormality in the shape of the eye in children - this is called ‘congenital glaucoma’.
Glaucoma tends to develop slowly over many years. As there is currently no cure for glaucoma, treatment focuses on early diagnosis, careful monitoring and regular treatment to help prevent further sight loss.
9 in 10
Over 90 per cent of people diagnosed with glaucoma today who get the treatment they need will retain useful sight for the rest of their lives
It is not currently possible to repair the optic nerve once it has been damaged, so any vision lost to glaucoma cannot be recovered. If left untreated, glaucoma can lead to blindness.
There are usually no symptoms of a rising pressure in the eye until sight loss occurs, so regular eye tests are the best way to help spot the condition early.
Over the next 18 months, William was given a range of different eye drops to try to lower the pressure in his eyes. None of them worked. His doctors were struggling to manage his condition and his sight was getting worse.
Then William met a doctor from Moorfields Eye Hospital to get a second opinion. She told him that his eyes were in poor condition and he risked losing the sight in his left eye completely within two years.
Going blind was the biggest fear of my life. For me, it felt like it was the end of the world.
The road to recovery
William was immediately transferred to Moorfields Duke Elder Eye Unit at St George’s Hospital. Within two weeks, his new doctor performed an operation to drain away excess liquid and reduce the pressure inside his eye.
The operation worked perfectly, and a year later William had the same operation on his right eye.
“I got an amazing standard of care,” he explains. “Throughout it all, it really felt like my doctor was on my side. She helped me to relax and to stop worrying about what was happening because I finally felt like I was in good hands.”
It was like finding an angel. I will be forever grateful for her compassion and expertise.
Thanks to these two operations, William’s eyesight is now fine and his glaucoma is well controlled. In fact, he doesn’t even need to use eye drops anymore. He decided to make a donation to Moorfields Eye Charity to show his appreciation for the care he received.
I can’t thank the hospital enough. I honestly think that without Moorfields Eye Hospital I’d be blind by now. Moorfields has given me back my sight.