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Patient and Provider Perspectives

Interviews with Patients

Art Takahara
A former mayor of Mountain View, CA

This is an interview with Mr. Art Takahara for the Glaucoma Education Program.

My first question to you, Mr. Takahara, is: What prompted you to get your eyes checked when your eye care professional first discovered you had glaucoma?

I had just gone to a regular Montgomery Ward just to have my eye checked on an annual basis, on a first-time basis. And when I went to just have my eyes checked at this Montgomery Ward eye center, one of the optometrists there who was doing the test all of a sudden terminated a test halfway through and says that, with a field test, [the] problem is that you need to go see an ophthalmologist. And so that’s when I was prompted to go to another ophthalmologist to get a second opinion and found out that I had glaucoma.

Had you ever had a comprehensive dilated eye exam before that visit? Did you consider yourself to be at risk for glaucoma?

Regarding whether I had my eyes dilated, yes, during my examinations previously, I had had my eyes dilated, but I had no idea that I had any symptoms of glaucoma. Of course, after I was found to have glaucoma and found out what are the symptoms of it, there were some obvious situations that I thought would have been not normal, like peripheral vision and all, which I did not know that I had a problem with.

After diagnosis, did you seek out additional information about glaucoma?  [If yes] Where did you go for information?

When I found out I had glaucoma, I did the research a little bit, going on the Internet and also the information I received from the glaucoma specialist. Those are probably the two resources I used to get further information.

How, if at all, has having glaucoma changed your life? Has it prevented you from doing any of the things you used to do for work or for fun?

Regarding how finding out I had glaucoma and subsequently how that has changed my life is that I have had somewhat of a deterioration but not dramatically, but my eyesight/vision has gotten weaker in the past 10 years that I’ve had glaucoma. And so at work it has been more difficult; and at times I need to use a magnifying glass in order to read certain things. And driving is a potential problem; my eyes are beyond the 20-40 that’s normally required, so I’m struggling to drive, and not driving at night now, but barely driving during the day.

What would you tell others who are at risk for glaucoma? How would you encourage them to get their eyes checked? What is the best reason to do it?

The thing is, as far as encouraging it for all individuals, whether they believe they may have an eye problem or not, is, I think, the greatest program that can be instituted or continue to be instituted would be at all levels, whether they’re older or younger, to get their eyes tested. And I think that the message that has to get out there.

What do you think prevents people from getting dilated eye exams to check for glaucoma? Why don’t more people do it?

Why people may not be having their eyes dilated, from my perspective, many of them do not want to have it done because of the difficulty in possibly driving after they have their eyes dilated during their eye testing. And there may be a situation where they maybe might have to have someone else come with them to drive, and that may not always be an option that’s available to them.

Are you aware of resources for people who have lost some vision due to glaucoma?

Am I aware? I think there are many organizations available.  I’m involved with the Glaucoma Research Foundation, but there are also foundations for the blind and many of those that are available. And I feel the easiest way to find it for those who are computer literate would be to go to [a] search engine and look up blindness or glaucoma, and there’s a wealth of information on what people can do.