Stockport great grandmother first person in the world to join new glaucoma study

A 79-year-old great grandmother from Stockport has become the first person in the world to join a new study of glaucoma treatments, conducted by the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust.

Barbara Johnson was diagnosed with glaucoma in 2014, a condition in which the eye’s drainage channels become clogged, and fluid collects inside the eye.

This puts pressure on the optic nerve, damaging the eye’s connection to the brain.

After a few years of treating the condition with eye drops, Barbara began to find the side effects intolerable.

However, alternative treatment failed to lower the pressure in her eye.

Barbara said: “My sight is very important to me which is why I was pleased to be offered alternative treatment and to be part of this study for my glaucoma. 

“I want to be able to watch my grandchildren and great grandson grow up.”

Barbara enjoying gardening.

As part of the study, Barbara has undergone a surgical procedure called canaloplasty, in which the eye’s drainage channels are unblocked. 

Mr Leon Au, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at Manchester Royal Eye Hospital and Study Lead said: “We are moving away from prescribing multiple drops in glaucoma treatment, as in some cases they can have unpleasant side effects or are just unsuitable.

“For Barbara and others, with something as simple and safe like canaloplasty they may be able to reduce or stop eye drops.”

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists (eye doctors) claim that more than 700,000 people in the UK have glaucoma.

Barbara, a retired classroom assistant with 10 grandchildren and a great grandson, said: “If I can help others by being part of this research then I’m very happy to do so.” 

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