Caregiver Advocates To Advance
Medical Research On Glaucoma
Advocating on behalf of her mom, who has lost most of her vision due to glaucoma, caregiver Donna Gallagher, calls for greater awareness of the sight-stealing disorder and more support for research aimed at stopping the progression of the disease.
Donna Gallagher: Balancing work and caregiving and life and being a wife and a mother of three, adult, married children and a grandmother of four grandchildren, it's really challenging.
It's hard to put into words what I've learned. It's really more of an experience. It's been an emotional roller coaster. Every time I take mom to the doctor's, a good day is dependent on two things--if her pressure reading is a good reading and if she can see something, anything on the eye chart, even the big “E.” If she can't, then she gets very discouraged, very despaired and as a caregiver I'm really always trying to encourage her--to reinforce some positive aspect to tell her that she's really weathered a lot. So it's an emotional roller coaster. Doctor visits can be very challenging for both of us.
It's amazing that people do not take the time to have regular eye exams and to be aware. It's kind of the story when you are busy taking care of someone else, you are always the last one to take care of yourself, but it's so critical that people do do that because glaucoma is a silent disease and you are not aware in the early stages often, that there's anything going on. So having regular check-ups--it's critical, especially if it's in your family history.
National Glaucoma Research: What advice would you give to someone who has been diagnosed with glaucoma?
Donna Gallagher: Make sure you find a really good, reputable specialist. That you would go and also research on your own the information that is out there, such as the information that the BrightFocus Foundation provides. There's a lot of articles, there's a lot of research, there's a lot of interaction on their website that can be of value in terms of having your questions answered.
think it's critical to fund research to end glaucoma because without research and without advancements, there really are no current answers to cure the disease. There are measures that can help to keep it under control for a period of time. In the case, such as my mom who has had the disease for over 40 years, which I think is probably somewhat atypical, being on eyedrops two to three times a day, two to three types of different drops over 40 plus years--that creates other complications. We need research that provides solutions that are effective, that are safe, that are long-term. I'm sure the answers are there, but it takes money, it takes times and it takes people supporting the cause.
Original Post Date: January 2012
Last Review: 04/28/13