Canaloplasty Patient Travels to US from India for Procedure

Hi, I’m Nidhi Shetty and I’m 25 years old. I’m from Mumbai (that’s in India) and I’m a nutritionist by profession. I was previously employed with Nestle as an infant nutrition delegate. And currently I’m a homemaker because I recently got married. I was diagnosed with glaucoma in September 2010, and then it got worse very quickly. Post June 2011, I could see that, I could see halos around lights and I could not see clearly and the headache was getting all the more worse. My vision had deteriorated to quite an extent on one of my eyes. So, that’s how I was introduced to a new set of medications. And I was prescribed a number of medications which kept changing because I couldn’t tolerate some of them. And before I underwent surgery, I was using three types of eye drops, which were three times a day, so it was almost like nine times of putting eye drops in the entire day. And on top of that I was taking Diamox tablets, every six hours, and that was also having a lot of side effects in terms of experiencing numbness in my extremities and dizziness throughout the day. So, that was the time I decided that, you know, it’s enough of medications. And, my doctor said “now you cannot tolerate this anymore because it was still not arresting the pressure in any way. So then I had to undergo surgery. In terms of lifestyle modifications after being diagnosed with glaucoma and being recommended so many drops, it was really difficult getting on with normal life because putting nine drops a day wasn’t easy, first of all.

I have also high myopia so I was wearing contact lenses. And if I had to put these eye drops regularly. It wasn’t possible for me to keep removing my lenses every time I had to put the drops and then wait for half an hour to like put it in again to put back the lenses. Because that was kind of irritating and when you’re travelling especially when you need to have it sterile and no way you keep removing and putting on the lenses again. And hygiene is a big issue there, so and I don’t want to take chances with infection because of this. And secondly these eye drops, some of them can cause kind of dryness in the eyes and also sting your eyes, make them red. You have blurry vision after using some of the eye drops, so, it wasn’t easy at all.

After monitoring my intra ocular pressure and seeing that the eye drops are not working and even the tablets were not working for that matter. And my pressure was in the high 40s which was crazy, absolutely crazy. And I could experience, you know, crazy headaches throughout the day and it was blurry vision and very bad. And the doctor was really freaked out my doctor in India, and he told me, “It’s high time you undergo a surgery. I don’t’ want to waste even one more day because your field of vision test were not so good. And it showed significant loss of vision in the right eye.” So he didn’t want to take chances with the left eye going bad. And so he suggested something like a shunt or a valve to be placed in the eye and then he said that, your pressure is so high that you will have to use two valves on the same eye to get down the pressure, otherwise it will not go down with just one shunt in each eye, so it has to be two valves in each eye. Which was somewhat scary for me because at the age of 25, I didn’t want to have these external bodies inside my eye, you know, with no guarantee whether it will work or not. And then he said, you cannot use contact lenses, the risk of infection is very high and then you have the other form of surgery wherein you have a bleb formation taking place. And then and again you’ll have a lot of lifestyle modifications because the bleb has a high chances of infection taking place. And your eye might get worst even after getting the operation done.

So I just googled the “new treatment for glaucoma” and coincidently I came across Dr. Richardson’s website because I think he has a site title with the same name and that was my key search words in Google, so I came across his websites. And so I got back to Dr. David Richardson with all my sort of questions. And almost literally everyday I’ve been asking him 5 to 10 questions and he wrote back to me with the answer for each and every question I asked him. So, that’s somehow boosted my confidence in this procedure. And my family was very supportive for that matter. And seeing the lifestyle modification which I’ll have to undergo if I go for the conventional surgery which I have in my home country.

I just weighed the options and then I thought nothing is more important than the vision right? So, I’m just 25 and I have a long way to go. I first got my right eye operated because the vision was really getting worst on that. And the, within two days after, the next day itself the bandage was removed and the, I took another two days to just recover from the whole thing. Then we had decided that we’ll get the left eye operated after a month. But unfortunately the pressure had shot up to 56, and seeing the, how good the healing was on the right eye, Dr. Richardson suggested that it’s better undergo the left eye surgery ASAP. Because it would just end up making the vision worst if I waited for one more month.

Once I’m back to India, I think there are a lot of doctors waiting for me to get back there. I’m like the guinea pig there right now for canaloplasty because I had taken five or six opinions before I came down here from different doctors. Because I couldn’t believe this was happening to me, first of all. And, so I just wanted to confirm that it is glaucoma and that there is no other option available in terms of surgery. Once I go back I’m sure I’m going to tell them how it has helped me. And then I would be there for them in front of their eyes to see. So I think that would convince them. And this should be good I guess, at least I might not be able to make a change but even if few people are aware of this because of me, it would be great.

Dr. David Richardson: So when you look at all the lifestyle modifications and the risk especially for somebody young, myopic, literally involved with Trabeculectomy, travelling all this way for canaloplasty really seem to be reasonable option to you.

Nidhi Shetty: Absolutely. This is really worth it. I knew it would be difficult of getting here financially. Also in term of getting a visa and then coming here, and staying, everything, everything. There are a lot of costs involved when it comes to travelling all the way from India and then coming here. But seeing the plus points in terms of… I told you that I’m a nutritionist and I am also a certified yoga trainer so there are a lot of physical activities of which might be opposed to surgery. If that will be safe for me or not. And seeing that I don’t have to undergo lifestyle modification is hardly anything

And I don’t regret the decision of coming here and getting the surgery done – at all. I’m truly very happy.

Dr. David Richardson: Wow! Do you have anything that you would say to, you know, patients living here in America who are considering their surgical options for glaucoma?

Nidhi Shetty: I would tell them that you are really lucky you have the doctors here who are able to do this. And there are doctors in India who want to do this but probably they don’t have the knowledge of all of it now. Or probably they don’t have to take the time; I don’t know what the reason is. But if you have the option here, I think you should probably consider doing it because everybody’s not so lucky. So I would totally recommend this.

Dr. David Richardson: Wow.

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