My name is Glaucoma. I am a child of the universe. I don’t really know my birthday, but every second Thursday of March, I am celebrated all over the world. I am told this is to make everybody aware of my presence and the devastation I could cause.
People really need to be aware of me because I am very dangerous. It isn’t my fault and I cannot do anything to stop it. I wish I could because I know what grief I have caused a lot of people.
People seldom give their secrets away. Even doctors, as much as they have tried, know very little about me. They’re working hard at it and soon they will find my innermost secrets. But I feel for you and I am sorry for the numerous cases of blindness and visual impairment that I have caused. I would like to help you, if you would allow me, by letting you into some of my secrets because I don’t want you to go blind.
I am an agent of darkness; a silent thief of vision. If I enter into anyone’s eyes, I gradually replace light with perpetual darkness. I cause no pain or discomfort so my landlord is completely unaware of my presence in his eyes until I have done a great deal of damage. I steal your vision even before you know you have provided me a place of abode in your eyes!
Take the case of Ojuri, a 35-year-old man. He was slapped by his neighbour. His lawyer asked him to bring a medical report so that he could sue for assault. He went to see his ophthalmologist who revealed my presence. It was found, to his dismay that I had become entrenched inside his eyes.
He was nearly blind in one eye and the other was more than 50 per cent gone. I could hear the doctor tell him that the damage was unrelated to the affray.
I smiled to myself as he asked him to thank his neighbour instead of suing him. Do you know that more than four million people have me, Glaucoma, inside their eyes? Two million of these don’t even know!
My friend, named Malaria, is easier to deal with. His presence is heralded by fever, malaise, headache and other recognisable signs. Everyone knows as soon as Malaria gets inside you. They can easily “cure” it with tablets or injections but you cannot get rid of me that way! I am too strong for that!
Have you met a “bold face” thief before? You see him; a hefty man and you ask him “What are you doing in my house?” He replies that he has come to rob you and clear all your possessions. That’s me! You are helpless against me. You can’t drive me out like you do to Malaria.
You are stuck with me for life and any part of your vision that I have eaten up is lost for ever.
They have tried tablets and eye drops to weaken me and stop my exploits. Often they succeed for a while and I relent in my destruction. Sooner or later I am able to wriggle out. Then they try something new. They’ve tried their knives on me too, carving out channels in the eyes for me to flow out with the fluid. It doesn’t always work with me.
Now, let me tell you some of my secrets so that you can keep your vision for as long as you live. Imagine the powerful Samson giving Delilah the secrets of his strength! Use it to the fullest and to your advantage.
First, I like to stay within families. So if one of your parents has already given me a place of abode in his eyes, I may find your eyes even more suitable than theirs.
Secondly, I love the eyes of diabetics and hypertensives. Thirdly, I have a preference for those who are above 40 years of age but if you are below 40, I may find your eyes attractive enough to want to install myself in your young and palatial residence.
Remember, I live quietly and obtrusively in people’s eyes, stealing their vision. The only way you can catch me is to be on the lookout for me.
Let the ophthalmologist, like a well-trained detective, search your eyes at every turn for me when you go for eye examinations – once a year if you’re below 40 and once in two years if you’re above.
Let the detective check for signs of my presence when you change your glasses and at every opportunity that may come your way. And if they find me in your eyes, follow your doctor’s advice. It may keep you sighted for the rest of your life.