‘Silent sight-taker’: Falkirk man urges Scots to test for debilitating glaucoma | The Edinburgh Clinic
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‘Silent sight-taker’: Falkirk man urges Scots to test for debilitating glaucoma

A retired man who received laser treatment for aggressive glaucoma is urging Scots to check their eyesight for the debilitating condition.

George Monteith, a retired engineer from Falkirk, had been living with glaucoma for over five years and had to insert eye drops each day to treat the condition. The drops helped to reduce the pressure within his eye and preserved George’s eyesight before he underwent a painless and little-known laser treatment called Selective Laser Trabeculoplasty (SLT) which opened up his eye’s natural drainage channels, leaving him drop-free and enhancing his quality of life. George is now urging others with glaucoma to consider the quick and non-invasive procedure.

Glaucoma is a common condition that affects 1-2% of people over 40 years old and 5% of those over 75. A problem where fluid inside the eye is unable to drain, if it is not diagnosed and treated early it can lead to blindness. While some patients develop symptoms including blurred vision in the late stage of the disease, many patients have no symptoms at all and the condition is only detected through regular eye checks by optometrists.

George, who celebrates his 70th birthday later this month, was inserting eye drops to treat his glaucoma for over five years.

While drops are commonly used to treat glaucoma they can cause a number of side effects including red uncomfortable eyes, low blood pressure, a slower heart rate and fatigue. George was lucky enough not to experience the more serious side effects but after undergoing multiple hand surgeries, he found it increasingly difficult to apply drops and began considering alternatives. A family friend suggested George contact The Edinburgh Clinic near the capital’s leafy Polwarth area to explore finding a more permanent solution.

There, George met world-renowned glaucoma surgeon Dr Andrew Tatham, who recommended the laser treatment known as SLT. Within a few days of his initial consultation, George was back at The Edinburgh Clinic and had the SLT procedure which he says has improved his quality of life.

“I’ve been living with glaucoma for a number of years now and thought I’d have to apply eye drops forever”, George said.  “After my hand surgery I had trouble applying the drops, which was incredibly frustrating. I just knew I had to explore my options and I’m so pleased I went to The Edinburgh Clinic.”

George had successful laser treatment on 3rd March with the procedure taking less than ten minutes in total. Before the treatment, George’s eye was assessed and anaesthetic drops were applied to numb the eye. The laser was then applied through a special contact lens to the drainage system of the eye where it stimulates a biochemical change that improves the outflow of fluid. Following the procedure, George’s eye pressure was checked and he was free to return home, with a follow-up appointment booked for the next day.

Dr Tatham was pleased with the results: “Glaucoma is essentially a plumbing problem in the eye and the SLT treatment is an effective way to improve drainage and alleviate pressure in the eye. This avoids blindness and can massively improve a person’s quality of life. George was applying multiple drops each day, and quite apart from the inconvenience of having to remember to do it, inserting the drops wasn’t the most pleasant experience and they can also have side effects. I’m so pleased that his quality of life has improved following the procedure, and he can go back to living his life and enjoying himself”.

A week has passed since George’s procedure and he’s already back to doing everything he used to, including DIY, cycling and looking after his grandchildren.

Urging people to get their eyes regularly tested, George said: “It’s unbelievable how glaucoma can creep up on you without any obvious signs or symptoms. I only felt a slight discomfort as the pressure rose within my eye, but had no idea how serious it could be, or that it could eventually result in blindness. I was inserting drops for many years and it was a nuisance, but this quick procedure has made things so much easier for me. The Edinburgh Clinic team were fantastic – there was no waiting time to be seen, and I was shocked at how quick and painless the procedure was. If you’re in the same boat as I was, be sure to explore all your option beyond. With modern technology these days it’s remarkable what can be done.”

Dr Tatham said: “The only way to have early detection is regular eye examinations and Scotland has the best provision for this in the world. People most at risk are very short-sighted, those with a family history of glaucoma and older people, but everyone should have regular examinations.”

Date: 13/03/2020