Andrew Bocelli, 61, has led an extraordinary life, garnering critical praise over the years for his singing, songwriting and record producing talents. The musician’s achievements are made all the more spectacular in light of his inauspicious start in life. As a child Andrew was diagnosed with congenital glaucoma, a rare eye condition that occurs in very young children, caused by an abnormality of the eye.
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Glaucoma describes a number of common eye conditions where the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain, becomes damaged, explains the NHS.
The condition, which can lead to loss of vision if it’s not diagnosed and treated early, can affect people of all ages, but is most common in adults in their 70s and 80s.
Congenital glaucoma, Andrew’s specific type of glaucoma, is a rare condition that may be inherited, caused by incorrect development of the eye’s drainage system before birth, explains the Glaucoma Research Foundation.
“This leads to increased intraocular pressure, which in turn damages the optic nerve,” noted the health body.
Symptoms of childhood glaucoma include enlarged eyes, cloudiness of the cornea, and photosensitivity (sensitivity to light).
How is it treated?
“In an uncomplicated case, surgery can often correct such structural defects. Both medication and surgery are required in some cases,” explained the Glaucoma Research Foundation.
Medical treatments may involve the use of topical eye drops and oral medications and these treatments help to either increase the exit of fluid from the eye or decrease the production of fluid inside the eye, and each result in lower eye pressure, explains the health site.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Andrew explained that classical music provided him with some much needed respite when he was a child.
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He said: “When I was five my mother discovered that the only way to comfort me with my glaucoma, was to play classical music on the record player.”
Unfortunately, Andrew, who was already grappling with his glaucoma, lost his sight completely due to a sporting injury.
He said: “As a child I was very lively and uncontrollable, I loved playing football and one day during a match, I was hit violently in the face with a ball on my right eye, the only one which I could see light and colour with.
“The doctors tried to cure me with various operations and they even used leeches but there was nothing that could be done.”
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The life-changing accident did not stand in his way of success however, on the contrary, Andrew cultivated his love of music – a pursuit that would see him go on to earn achieve global success.
How to spot glaucoma
As the NHS explains, glaucoma does not usually cause any symptoms to begin with and
it tends to develop slowly over many years and affects the edges of your vision (peripheral vision) first.
For this reason, many people do not realise they have glaucoma, and it’s often only picked up during a routine eye test.
If you do notice any symptoms, they might include blurred vision, or seeing rainbow-coloured circles around bright lights, and both eyes are usually affected, although it may be worse in one eye, says the health site.
Very occasionally, glaucoma can develop suddenly and cause:
- Intense eye pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- A red eye
- A headache
- Tenderness around the eyes
- Seeing rings around lights
- Blurred vision
When to seek medical advice
Visit an optician or a GP if you have any concerns about your vision because if you have glaucoma, early diagnosis and treatment can help stop your vision getting worse, notes the NHS.
As the health body warns, without treatment, glaucoma can eventually lead to blindness.
If you develop symptoms of glaucoma suddenly, go to your nearest eye casualty unit or A&E as soon as possible.
“This is a medical emergency that may require immediate treatment,” cautioned the NHS.
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