He dealt with this oddness until 2005 when one day, while attending class at St Charles Lwanga Secondary School in Mubende District, he started experiencing unclear vision. This time round though, it was worse until he could barely see anything. He informed his teacher who granted him permission to go and get treatment. Makumbi says together with a friend, they went to Mubende Regional Referral Hospital where, after tests, he was diagnosed with open angle glaucoma, a common type of glaucoma that gradually causes loss of vision.
According to preventblindness.com, glaucoma is an eye disease that causes loss of sight by damaging a part of the eye called the optic nerve. This nerve sends information from your eyes to your brain. When glaucoma damages your optic nerve, you begin to lose patches of vision, usually side vision (peripheral vision).
“Many times, it occurs without any warning signs only for a patient to realise when it is already too late like in my case,” Makumbi says.
The cause was not identified since no other family member has or had suffered from the eye disorder. However, in most cases, glaucoma is inherited or caused by old age.
When Makumbi’s parents later joined him at the hospital, the doctors said their son needed immediate surgery on both eyes, an idea they consented to without hesitation.
“The operation was carried out the following day at the same hospital. I barely remember what the surgery involved. The only thing I recall is being wheeled to the theatre,” he says.
After surgeryMakumbi was discharged a few days later and underwent three months of recovery. He says for two months he could hardly see anything but in the third month, he started regaining his sight.
He was later told by doctors that the surgery was aimed at reducing the rate of damage by high intraocular pressure to the optic nerve. He, however, continued seeing the traces of rainbow colours every time his eyes were exposed to bright light.
He was advised then to continuously apply eye drops aimed at reducing pressure in the eyes but although Makumbi has been using the eye drops from 2005 to date, his sight is worsening as he gets older.
“I cannot see anything using my left eye besides light progression. On the other hand, the visual field of my right eye is too low,” he says. For such reasons, Makumbi says his daily life has been greatly affected.
ChallengesSince he can barely see, Makumbi says he now struggles to live a normal life and do his daily chores. For instance, at his place of residence in Masanafu-Lugala, a Kampala suburb, the 28-year-old says his partner and the mother of his three-year-old son helps him with most of the house chores.
For movement, Makumbi says he mostly relies on boda boda cyclists whom he often instructs to take him to a desired destination. And whenever he is crossing the road, he takes his time inorder to avoid getting knocked.
At work, Makumbi wears glasses aimed at reducing the strong light rays emerging from his computer. Otherwise, he says these glasses do not serve much purpose.
In addition, he also finds challenges differentiating colours and is fearful that if he does not get the required treatment, he will soon become completely blind.
TreatmentSince he has optic nerve damage, Makumbi was advised by an eye specialist to go for alternating current stimulating treatment for vision restoration in Germany.
“For this purpose, I am appealing to well-wishers to come to my rescue. The treatment, travel and accommodation will all cost about Shs50m and although I work, my salary can barely meet the cost,” Makumbi says. Makumbi can be reached on phone numbers 0788432911 or 0703720750. Any financial assistance can also be forwarded to Centenary bank, account number 3020579007. As he desperately solicits financial assistance, Makumbi is slowly loosing his eyesight. He advises everybody to frequently go for eye check-ups to find out if they have any eye illness so that if a problem is detected, it can be dealt with immediately.
What is glaucoma? Dr Addepalli Uday Kumar, a glaucoma specialist and comprehensive optometrist at Makerere University Hospital, says, “It is a complex disorder of aging defined by the death of retinal ganglion cells and remodeling of connective tissues at the optic nerve head. Intraocular pressure-induced atonal injury at the optic nerve head leads to apoptosis (programmed ganglion cell death).
Loss of retinal ganglion cells follows a slowly progressive sequence. The signs include fluctuating vision, coloured haloes, reduced visual fields (noticed in advanced condition).
Treatment depends on the type of glaucoma. Primary angle closure glaucoma is treated with laser as the first line of management followed by medications and surgery in the final stage (only if needed and under expert opinion). On the other hand,primary open angle glaucoma is treated with a combination of oral medications and with surgery in the later stages. Diagnosis of glaucoma is often done during comprehensive eye examination.”
This article was published in Daily Monitor https://www.monitor.co.ug/Magazines/HealthLiving/-Makumbi-losing-sight-glaucoma--Mubende-old-age/689846-5018436-5qaav6z/index.html