Eyeing a Future Without Glaucoma
Research and Innovations Stelth Ng hasn’t let his life with glaucoma slow him down from pursuing his passions.
Glaucoma is one of the most common sight-threatening diseases in the world, affecting about 400,000 Canadians and 70 million people worldwide. A disease largely associated with aging, it can also affect children and young adults. Stelth Ng is a 27-year-old musician and filmmaker living with glaucoma. He’s also blind in one eye and knows the impact the disease can have on one’s life.
“I was born with perfect eyesight, and no one in my family had issues with their vision, but when I was 12 years old I was diagnosed with cataracts in my eyes,” Stelth remembers. “Complications from the cataract surgery caused glaucoma in one eye.”
The impact for Stelth was sudden and profound. When he was younger, there was a time when he couldn’t see his mother’s face for two years. Today, Stelth has no night vision or depth perception. He bumps into things and often falls trying to navigate stairs and curbs.
None of this has dulled his zest for life. Music became a source of inspiration and expression. “For a few months after having surgery on both eyes, I was completely blind. Playing the violin and piano lifted me out of my depression,” he says. “I want to find a way to help visually-impaired children experience music and dance.”
With 16 eye surgeries over the past 15 years, Stelth’s teen and early adult years were spent with countless trips to the hospital and visits to the doctor. As glaucoma can often cause swelling in the eye, Stelth was in constant pain, and doctors used several procedures to lower the pressure. While he has a prosthetic in one eye, he has hope that there will be a new discovery that will repair his sight.
“I am thankful for the treatment I received from doctors at the Donald K. Johnson Eye Institute. It’s very exciting to see such passionate doctors and scientists who are dedicated to finding a cure for glaucoma,” he says.