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National Glaucoma Awareness Week: How Galloway's provided emotional support to Manjeet

Photo shows Manjeet Lamba wearing dark glasses. He i stood outside, with some shrubbery. It is a sunny day
Manjeet Lamba

When Manjeet Lamba was told he had glaucoma, he felt a sense of panic, as he was worried he would lose his sight with no warning.

But the 67-year-old says that fear soon turned to reassurance following his appointment with Eye Clinic Liaison Officer Glen Sheader at Royal Lancaster Infirmary.

Manjeet, who lives in Lancaster, recalls: “When I was first diagnosed, my panic and fear kicked in, as I found it very difficult to function normally. I was paranoid about becoming blind very quickly. There was no reassurance that the doctors could give, as it all relied on statistical probability. I felt I needed to talk to someone about my emotions and my fear. I needed to separate the emotional issues from the medical factors.

“And Glen provided that service to me. I saw Glen working at the eye clinic at Royal Lancaster Infirmary and took down his contact details from the poster which was on display.

“Having face to face talks with him at the clinic has been great. It allowed me the opportunity to understand and reflect on where the panic was coming from.

“Glen told me about the Galloway’s centre in Morecambe, which was an additional service of support.

“Pauline McSalley, Sight Loss Advisor, was absolutely marvellous in talking to myself and my partner about the more practical issues facing people with sight loss, such as the help available, apparatus, lighting and talking books. That went a long way in making me realise there was a whole network of assistance out there and I wasn’t having to face this problem alone.

“I was put in touch with Richard Stevens, who is a counsellor. He tries to ring me once a week on a Thursday, wherever possible. That has been really helpful. I have been able to jot down my feelings and it is so therapeutic.

“So between myself, Glen, Pauline and Richard, we have been working together as a team and have been very effective. I am arriving slowly at a point where I feel less panicky. I am able to recognise that I am not going to go blind next month, or the month after that. I can recognise that medically, there are options and I have a lot of emotional techniques to keep my fears under control. I can look forward to the future in a way which does not make me totally disabled and I am very grateful for the help Galloway’s has given me.”

Manjeet was diagnosed with glaucoma in March 2019 after his optician noticed he had high pressure in his left eye during a routine appointment.

He adds: “I was referred to the eye clinic at Royal Lancaster Infirmary the next day, which confirmed I had glaucoma in both eyes. It was worse in the left eye as the optic nerve had already been damaged quite significantly. The pressure in my eye was a bit high, so I was given eye drops to bring the pressure down, but I was allergic to these. I was referred for an operation to artificially drain the excess fluid behind the left eye at the beginning of the year. I am now in the recovery process and my vision is clearing a bit. My vision will never get any better, but this will help maintain my sight.”

Image shows two boys in the centre. The rest of the box (vision) is black
An example of what a person with glaucoma may see

Glaucoma is the name given to a group of eye conditions that cause sight loss by damaging your optic nerve. The sight loss caused by glaucoma is permanent, while treatments can’t restore sight, it can prevent it from happening in the first place.

Glaucoma is caused by increased pressure in the eye or by a weakness in the optic nerve. In most cases, high pressure and weakness in the optic nerve are both involved to a varying extent. The amount of pressure will relate to the speed and extent of the damage caused.

Operations cannot repair or improve damage that may have already been caused, but they can prevent further damage to the eye and further sight loss. Early treatment can also prevent damage and sight loss from happening in the first place.

Treatment for Glaucoma is usually via eye drops, to reduce the pressure in the eye, or laser surgery, which helps improve drainage of fluid in the eye. Both are effective treatments. The earlier it is detected, the lesser the effects of the condition. Glaucoma has very few symptoms, so it is vital you attend regular eye checks.

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