Pastoral Care Blog

EARLY DETECTION FOR GLAUCOMA IS CRUCIAL

By Ron Gonzalez, M.P.S.
Counseling Pastor of Christ Church

Did you know that January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month? It’s an important time to spread the word about this sight-stealing disease.

Growing up as a child, teen and young adult, I loved to watch and play all kinds of sports—(touch) football, baseball, softball, basketball, tennis, table tennis, track, cross country, just to name a few. I inherited a passion for sports from my father who was quite good at bowling, swimming, billiards, as well as most of the sports mentioned above.

One Saturday morning while playing in the outfield with a softball league, I noticed I had difficulty following and catching a fly ball. It wasn’t for a lack of speed or skill, it was like one second I saw the ball clearly, the next second the ball disappeared on me.

Thankfully, I needed a new pair of eyeglasses for distance and went to a neighborhood optometrist soon afterward. After examining my eyes, the optometrist told me I should go to an ophthalmologist for a more comprehensive examination. There was a sense of urgency in his voice so I made an appointment without delay.

After a full and thorough examination, the ophthalmologist diagnosed me with glaucoma. He also informed me that I had irreversible loss of sight in my right eye. There were no symptoms. I was 30 years old.

Glaucoma was not an unfamiliar disease to me as my mother was diagnosed with it when she was young. But as a young, active man, I never thought it would be something that would affect me. What I did not know, but have learned since, is that glaucoma can be inherited from one’s parents. Since then, my brother and sister have each been diagnosed with this sight-stealing disease.

Needless to say, I am very grateful for the early detection in my life that was crucial to stopping the progress of this disease. I am also very thankful for the medication that I take daily that helps to prevent further vision loss. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. (Psalm 107:1)

Here are just a few important facts to know about glaucoma:

  • Over 3 million Americans and over 60 million people worldwide have glaucoma. Experts estimate that half of them don't know they have it.
  • Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world, according to the World Health Organization. Moreover, among African American and Latino populations, glaucoma is more prevalent. Glaucoma is 6 to 8 times more common in African Americans than Caucasians.
  • In the most common form, there are virtually no symptoms. Vision loss begins with peripheral or side vision, so if you have glaucoma, you may not notice anything until significant vision is lost.
  • The best way to protect your sight from glaucoma is to get a comprehensive eye examination. Then, if you have glaucoma, treatment can begin immediately.

Click below for additional information on glaucoma and National Glaucoma Awareness Month.

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Ron Gonzalez, M.P.S.
Counseling Pastor of Christ Church

Ron Gonzalez is the Counseling Pastor of Christ Church, providing direction for the Counseling Ministry, Pastoral Care, Care Groups, Grief Recovery, Prayer and Chaplaincy Ministries. In his spare time, he is an avid runner, competing in half-marathons, marathons and triathlons.