Tips for Coping with Your Glaucoma Diagnosis
If you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with glaucoma, you may feel a variety of emotions – confusion, worry, fear, anxiety. As the second leading cause of blindness, you may also have thoughts, questions, and concerns about the diagnosis and available treatment options.
At Living with Glaucoma, we want to offer advice and provide strategies to help you manage your glaucoma diagnosis. These include how to find a support system, a treatment option that is right for you, or how you can take care of yourself through this journey. Keep reading to learn more.
Find a Reliable Support System
After learning more about your glaucoma diagnosis, it can be helpful to share your feelings with your family and others in the glaucoma community. Whether you want to turn to a family member, friend, coworker, or even a therapist, finding a core emotional support system can help you deal with the diagnosis and your emotions throughout your journey. Although your support system may not fully understand what you are going through, it can be comforting to share your feelings with them. Since glaucoma is hereditary, it may even be likely someone in your family has experience with the condition.
Don’t want to just sit down and talk about your diagnosis? Consider taking a walk with a friend to discuss your condition and what it means for you. If you feel comfortable, you can also start by asking a friend or family member to come to a doctor’s appointment with you to learn more about your condition and what your next steps are. You may be more relaxed and feel reassured having a familiar face with you at your appointment.
Having a support system can help you feel more at ease and confident. On the other hand, a lack of social support can lead to isolation and loneliness – so don’t be afraid to get your friends involved. They’ll likely want to support you in any way that they can!
Join a Glaucoma Community
While it’s important to develop a personal support system when dealing with a diagnosis, it’s also just as beneficial to join a support group to connect with others who are going through a similar experience. Meeting or talking to others with glaucoma may be informative and emotionally helpful! To find a support group that meets in person, check with your doctor or a healthcare center in your area. There are also active online groups where patients discuss and share their personal experiences. In these support groups, you may find answers, tips, advice, doctor recommendations, success stories, and more.
Connecting with others who have glaucoma can provide insight into available treatment options and allow you to hear some firsthand experiences. While you may be learning about treatments others have tried, make sure you are connecting with your physician to discuss what is right for you.
Tips to Consider
Once the initial shock of a glaucoma diagnosis has worn off, you might be wondering what to do next, who to turn to, or simply how to cope. Below is a list of things you can do to manage your emotions and develop a strong support system to help you get through this uncertain time.
- Talk About Your Feelings or Concerns: Some days you might just want to talk to someone. Ask your friends if it’s ok that you share your feelings with them, whether that is over the phone, through text message, video chat, or in person.
- Catch Up with a Friend: A glaucoma diagnosis doesn’t mean you stop living your life, so continue to be social. Ask a friend or a family member to grab food or coffee, go for a walk, or do one of your favorite activities. Catching up and having a good time can sometimes be just what you need!
- Exercise: Working out will help you both mentally and physically. It will give you a chance to get out of the house and challenge yourself. Join a gym or fitness center or go for a long walk/run. Continuing to enjoy some exercises may even be beneficial to your condition, as aerobic activity can help lower eye pressure. However, there are some exercises you should do with caution or avoid, including certain yoga poses.
- Volunteer: Many people have found that helping others gives a sense of purpose. It also increases your social interaction, which helps you build a support system based on common interests and goals.
- Meditate: By meditating, you can add some balance and relaxation to your routine if you are feeling overwhelmed. Breathing exercises and meditation can give you a sense of calm and balance, while also allowing you to focus on the present moment rather than worrying about the future.
Find a Treatment Option Right for You
While your emotions may be high following a diagnosis, try to retain the information your doctor is telling you. One way you can do so is by taking notes during your appointments or by asking your doctor for a summary to get a better understanding. You can also do your own research to gain additional knowledge and insight, in addition to what your physician is telling you.
Glaucoma is known as the silent thief of sight, but with early detection, it can be successfully treated, and you can protect your vision. The condition is asymptomatic and typically occurs without any noticeable symptoms, so oftentimes, it can go undiagnosed without routine check-ups. A few key treatment options are available for those diagnosed with mild-to-moderate glaucoma, so if you have been diagnosed with glaucoma, your doctor likely recommended that you promptly start treatment to reduce pressure in your eye and stop the disease from worsening. We’ve broken down some of your available treatment options below.
- Prescription Eye Drops: One common treatment for high intraocular pressure (IOP) and glaucoma is prescription eye drops. When taken as directed, glaucoma eye drops can reduce eye pressure — most commonly by decreasing the amount of fluid created or by helping fluid drain from the eye. However, research has shown that more than 90% of patients are non-adherent with their prescription eye drops for glaucoma, and nearly 50% stop taking their medications before 6 months. Your doctor may prescribe more than one type of medication to manage your glaucoma over time. Be sure to tell your eye care professional if you’re taking other medications that may interfere with glaucoma eye drop medications. Prescription eye drops for high IOP and glaucoma will only work if you take them as prescribed, so it’s important to follow your doctor’s directions.
- Laser Treatments: There are several types of laser treatments available to treat glaucoma. Laser trabeculoplasty is the most common, where a laser is used to help drain fluid from the eye and lower intraocular pressure in the eye. Following laser treatment, you should expect a few follow-up appointments with your doctor to monitor your eye pressure. Typically, patients continue taking their medication regularly. There have been instances where patients received this procedure more than once as this treatment can wear off over time.
- Micro-Invasive Glaucoma Surgery: As technology has progressed, less invasive techniques have emerged that have improved the safety profile for glaucoma surgery. Today, more micro-invasive surgical options are available for patients who are interested in effective glaucoma management without having to rely solely on the continuous use of prescription medication. Micro-Invasive Glaucoma Surgery has become the preferred approach to glaucoma management for many eye care professionals and their patients with mild-to-moderate glaucoma.
- iStent inject® W: The iStent inject® W is a micro-invasive procedure that is designed to effectively lower eye pressure in those with mild-to-moderate primary open-angle glaucoma in conjunction with cataract surgery. The iStent inject® W is FDA-approved and one of the smallest medical implants known to be implanted in the human body. The device includes two surgical-grade titanium stents that are preloaded in a single-use sterile injector. The specially designed injector helps your eye surgeon maneuver the implant for accurate, micro-targeted placement. You won’t see or feel the stents after they are inserted, but they are designed to effectively manage your eye pressure. In a pivotal trial of iStent inject® implanted at the time of cataract surgery, it was observed that 84% of patients were medication-free at 23 months.
Think you may be a candidate for the iStent inject® W? Talk to your eye care professional today to find out if it is right for you.
Having a treatment plan in place can give you peace of mind knowing you are taking the right steps to preserve your vision as much as possible. So, make sure to get organized by setting up appointments, understanding your options, and finding the right doctor. Also, before your next appointment, jot down some questions you may have for your physician. Sometimes getting answers to your questions can provide some much-needed relief.
A Sense of Relief
Take a deep breath and know that your feelings about your diagnosis are normal. Now that you have learned some ways to cope with your glaucoma diagnosis, we hope you are feeling better about your condition and what lies ahead. Remember, a proper treatment path and a solid support system can go a long way.
Don’t hesitate to come back to this blog if you are still feeling a little lost and struggling with your emotions. You can also read about people living with glaucoma who received iStent inject® W. As always, follow Living with Glaucoma on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!
 Nordstrom BL, Friedman DS, Mozaffari E, Quigley HA, Walker AM. Persistence and adherence with topical glaucoma therapy. Am J Ophthalmol. 2005;140(4):598-606.
 Market Scope, 2017 Glaucoma Surgical Device Report
 Based on responder analysis of patients meeting the primary effectiveness endpoint
 iStent inject® Trabecular Micro-Bypass System: Directions for Use, Part #45-0176.