FRIDAY, April 20 (HealthDay News) -- Though only 15 when
diagnosed with juvenile open-angle glaucoma, A.J. Esguerra said
he's tried not to let the potentially devastating eye disease slow
"It's not the end of the world," said Esguerra, now 23 and living in Cambridge, Mass. "I've continued on with all of my activities, and I look at it as just one other thing I have to deal with, and I find a way to manage."
Like many people with the disease, Esguerra had no idea he was
losing some of his peripheral vision to glaucoma. It wasn't until
he went for a routine eye exam that doctors discovered he had
higher than normal pressure in his eyes.
Before he was diagnosed, he'd already lost some peripheral
vision in his left eye, which he said is noticeable when he
Since being diagnosed, Esguerra has had three surgeries, uses
eye drops daily and gets frequent follow-up eye care. "I see the
eye doctor every three months unless my eye pressure goes up, and
then it can be as much as once a month," he said.
Despite his many medical appointments and procedures, Esguerra
said, he never took time off from his schoolwork to recover from
his surgeries, nor did he ask for extra time to complete the work.
He recently graduated with a degree in business from Northeastern
University in Boston, and he completed three six-month, full-time
internships at major financial services companies while going to
"Living with glaucoma, I control what I can," Esguerra said. "I limit my caffeine. I get regular exercise, and as a kid, I didn't hang upside down because that can raise your eye pressure. In my teen years, I really didn't think anything of it."
He also seems to have found a positive side of having to deal
with a chronic illness.
"I think I look at things from a different perspective than most people my age," Esguerra explained. "I think I have a lot more empathy, not just for people with glaucoma but any disease in general. You start to have an understanding of what people go through."
The toughest part of living with glaucoma, he said, is the
"It's chronic, and there's no cure," Esguerra said. "I'm always trying to figure out what lowers my eye pressure and what activities raise it, but with glaucoma, there's no real end. There's no goal to shoot for."
He also acknowledged that there are definitely days when having
glaucoma gets to him, though he tries to stay positive most of the
"I've tried not to let it slow me down," he said. "Looking forward is the key thing. I just graduated [last]year, and now I'm looking at what's next for me."
A companion article offers a more in-depth look at
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