The majority of people in this world are born with the ability to
people are born without eyesight, and many
more lose it at some point in their lives.
graduated from CHS in ’97. She participated in marching band, and
was acknowledged in the band and throughout the school for her
ability to play to clarinet. Upon her graduation, she received a
$1,000 scholarship, the Young Artist Award.
Ferrell, 22, starting losing
her eyesight four years ago. “It was obvious that I had lost a ton
of vision. It just bottomed out. I didn’t know which eye it was. I
didn’t know what was going on. All I knew was that I had lost a
significant amount of vision and did not know why,” Ferrell said.
In September of her freshman year at Ball State, Ferrell
went to a routine optometrist appointment, and everything was fine.
However, between that appointment and November, she had already lost
the majority of her vision.
“At that point I went to my
optometrist again thinking maybe I needed contacts replaced or
needed stronger care or something. Then he took my glaucoma
pressure. In my right eye, the pressure was 38. Normal fluid
pressure for eyes is between 10 and 20. Needless to say, there was a
problem,” Ferrell said.
That evening Ferrell went directly to
her glaucoma specialist. He diagnosed her with glaucoma and informed
her that she would lose all of her eyesight.
“I was 18 years
old. I just started college, you know, all of this new stuff. Then,
I go home for an eye appointment, and somebody tells me I am going
to be blind within the next four months unless I did something right
then,” Ferrell said.
“I left the doctors office after I had
sat there and been told I was going blind. I was just a wreck. So, I
am driving home trying to stay on the road on a cell phone calling
everyone completely a wreck. It was horrible.”
As any family
would be, the Ferrells were very concerned. “I got a phone call from
Chrissy stating that she was on her way to a glaucoma specialist
because she has glaucoma. I was totally surprised. We said we need a
second opinion. Our efforts were more toward what are we going to do
about this,” Ferrell’s mother, Tammy Ferrell, said.
Ferrell was on medication
for the following two weeks to try to reduce her eye pressure down,
but the attempts failed. On Dec. 10, 1997 she went through her first
two eye surgeries on her right eye in an operation called a clear
“The glaucoma procedure they did failed,
which is why I lost all the vision because between December and the
following May, which is when I had the second surgery done, I had
lost all the vision. Glaucoma works very fast,” Christina
Since the surgeries, all of the vision in Christina’s
right eye disappeared.
During her May 10, 1998 surgery,
Christina had a glaucoma implant put into her eye. “It looks
basically like a stingray. The tube goes down into your eye, and the
fluid drains out through the tube and then it gets dispersed by the
flat part. It is my plumbing system,” Christina said. According to
Christina, a pinpoint of vision remains in her right eye probably
because of that implant.
“It has changed my life for the better. I don’t
think I’d have the same outlook on life. I don’t take things for
granted anymore. Sometimes walking up and down stairs is a real
event, depending on the lighting and whether or not I can actually
see the stairs.”
So I don’t take for granted waking up in the
morning and seeing a beautiful day or looking at certain people and
taking for granted that I can see their face. Knowing that could be
taken away any day it has completely changed my attitude,” Christina
Christina does not play the clarinet anymore. “Being a
musician you play on all different kinds of stages, in all different
atmospheres. I mean you are not really sure what the lighting is
going to be, and it’s very, very difficult, being principal of your
section and you are the one who is supposed to lead everybody and
you can’t even see your music. It became a very difficult task to
see the music. I had different kinds of glasses, and I tried
everything. I was exhausted,” Ferrell said.
difficulties with many things. “Sometimes it’s difficult to read,
very difficult to read. Sometimes even watching TV, my eyes get so
blurry it’s hard to see the TV. Steps and stairways are
frustrating,” Christina said.
“Usually I get frustrated and
then just take a moment. I realize everything is fine and just keep
going. There is no point in letting it get to me because there is
nothing I can do about it.
A shoulder to
A lot of times what has worked is the advice I got
from my mother and my fiancé. They say to basically take 15 minutes
to feel completely sorry for yourself, have your own pity party and
cry your eyes out or whatever it takes for 15 minutes. Then put it
away and be done with it. The important thing to remember is that
glaucoma may deteriorate your eyes, but it doesn’t deteriorate you
as a person.”
“Glaucoma is what she has, not who she is,”
Since her diagnosis, Christina has randomly made
many seeing-impaired friends. Also, she continues to be fairly open
about the effects of the disease and the disease in general. She has
transferred schools and is currently studying finance at Northern
Kentucky University. She worked with the blind and the Braille
system in music for a while as well.
Christina has taught
herself beginning Braille. “The problem is there weren’t classes to
take. There are two major places for the blind, the Cincinnati
Institute for the Blind and one other place. Neither one of those
offers any classes, which is really, really sad because you can walk
into the bookstore and find about 100 books on the deaf and sign
language and not one on the blind.
The book I got was a
children’s book, and that helped me,” Christina said. There is a
publishing company that publishes books in Braille. This company
doesn’t publish many more books other than textbooks for schools
though, because it is a volunteer organization.
advice to others who are not seeing-impaired. “If you ever see
anyone who has a cane or a dog, who is struggling and looks like
they are blind, help them, don’t watch them suffer. Those people
shouldn’t be ridiculed or laughed at because they have a cane or a
dog. It’s not funny,” Christina said.
What is glaucoma?
Between 2,000 and 3,000 Americans suffer from glaucoma, and one
would not know if one had it, because there are no symptoms in the
initial stages. When people realize they finally have glaucoma, it
is already too late. Doctors can not restore what has already been
Today there are two commonly known types of glaucoma. The
most common type which affects 85 percent of the cases in the United
States, is chronic or open-angle glaucoma. Closed-angle, or acute,
glaucoma comes on much more suddenly and is less common.
every person’s eye, approximately a teaspoon of clear fluid is
produced daily to wash and nourish the lens and cornea. The fluid is
then drained from the eye to a spongy tissue at the edge of the
iris. In the disease glaucoma, the passage becomes blocked, thus
producing pressure to build up within the eye.
As a result,
blurred vision or blindness occurs because of damage due to the
optic nerve. Doctors are baffled as to why the eye’s drainage system
Glaucoma occurs when the fluid pressure is
too much for the eye to handle. In some cases, above-normal pressure
will not cause harm to the optic nerve, and in other people normal
pressure is too much for their eye to handle.
settles and starts to react within a person, it affects the
mid-peripheral range of vision. For example, if a person is looking
at a chair and someone walks by, the person viewing the chair would
not have noticed the person walking by if the viewer is suffering
Currently, glaucoma does not have a cure.
There are treatments, however. When a person first notices blurred
vision, eye drops are prescribed to sedate further vision loss.
Surgery is suggested. The purpose is to relieve the eye
pressure by making a tiny hole is the white part of the eye. Laser
surgery is recommended to enable drainage.
This disease is
not contagious, it is the body’s own malfunction or a gene that
causes glaucoma. Like all diseases, doctors are constantly trying to
find a cure or a prevention method to stop glaucoma.
Are you at High risk?
• More than
40 years old