Michael appeared perfectly normal at birth. By the time he reached his one-week old appointment he had noticeable broken blood vessels in both eyes. The pediatrician noted that this was most likely a result of him coming through the birth canal since he was born quickly.
Michael later had some swelling in one eye and was treated for a blocked tear duct. We were told that if it had not resolved itself by the time he reached 9 months old, he would be referred to a Pediatric Ophthalmologist for treatment.
My instinct told me that waiting was not the best option, so I called a Pediatric Ophthalmologist in my area for an immediate consultation. This was the hardest appointment Michael experienced in his 5 months of life. At the end of the appointment the ophthalmologist was certain that he had Congenital Glaucoma but stated that she was not qualified to make that diagnosis. She referred him to his current specialist who diagnosed him immediately.
Michael was diagnosed at five months old and it was evident that he had the condition from birth. He had textbook Glaucoma symptoms of: elevated eye pressures in the 40’s, enlarged eyeballs, tearing, high cupping of the optic nerve, clouding of the corneas, and sensitivity to light. He also had no vision in his left eye. He was in the operating room for his first surgery one week later.
Since that time Michael has had five Glaucoma procedures, one emergency procedure due to a hyphema, and countless eye exams under anesthesia (EUAs). He currently has one valve implanted and is on four different Glaucoma medications throughout the day (morning, afternoon, and night.) He was prescribed glasses as an infant and has been wearing them since that time.
As a result of the procedures, medication and approximately six years of eye patching, he has been able to regain some vision in his left eye with an acuity of 20/400 corrected with glasses. His right eye has faired better thus far with an acuity of 20/25 with glasses.
Michael has not needed to have any additional procedures since he was approximately 13 months old. He is currently 10 years old and this year (2021) we are seeing an increase in pressure that may require surgical or laser intervention.
Glaucoma is a difficult condition and has been a whirlwind in our lives. Despite it all Michael has remained a healthy, happy, fulfilled boy. He is an A honor roll student in a rigorous magnet program, he plays recreational sports, is in various clubs, and has the best personality and spirit.
The sad reality is Congenital Glaucoma is often missed until after real damage occurs. I often wonder how his life would be different if he had been diagnosed at birth, but I am grateful for all that we have today. He is living proof that there can not only be life, but an abundant life with Congenital Glaucoma.
This story was told by Michael’s mother, Kianna Benson, in February 2021.