Why You Should Listen to Rapper Fetty Wap to Avoid Blindness

Posted By Key-Whitman Eye Center || 6-Jul-2015

Rap superstar Fetty Wap has found fans in other hit makers from Rhianna to Jay Z and Beyoncé for good reason. His hit "Trap Queen" topped Billboard's Hot Rap Songs charts this spring, he loves his mom and he’s steadfast about being honest about himself. This became abundantly clear when he set the record about how he lost his eye.

No, he didn’t get hit with fireworks or shot in the face. In an interview with TMZ (watch it here), Fetty, with his mom at his side, revealed he was born with an eye disease.

Fetty suffers from congenital glaucoma

“I was born with glaucoma, and I lost the eye at 6 months, and I got reconstructive surgery when I was 12, and I just stopped wearing the prosthesis, because I didn’t want to look like everybody else … I don’t hide this, because this is who I am and what I am,” says Fetty.

In an earlier interview, the rap star also credits his doctor, saying, “The doctor saved one [eye]. So, I’m blessed to still have my vision.”

For people born with primary congenital glaucoma like Fetty and those diagnosed with secondary or adult glaucoma later in life, regular visits with an eye doctor who specializes in glaucoma treatment is the key to avoiding vision loss.

Want to learn whether smoking pot is a good option when you have glaucoma? Read this earlier post about Roseanne Barr.

Regular monitoring, diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma is essential for saving eyesight

According to Key-Whitman Eye Center’s ophthalmologist Amy Hong, M.D., “Managing glaucoma is like monitoring high blood pressure. Over time, your medication may not control your blood pressure as well as it did previously. So you have to visit the doctor to change the medication to get it under control. The same holds true with glaucoma medication.”

The most important step to managing the disease is getting a glaucoma diagnosis in the first place. This is especially true if you are at high risk for glaucoma.

Genetics is a big factor. If you have a family history of the disease, be sure to schedule yearly monitoring screenings with your eye doctor. Advanced age, diabetes, myopia (near-sightedness) and racial background are also risk factors for glaucoma. African Americans are significantly more likely than Caucasians to have glaucoma,” Dr. Hong says.

Glaucoma is sneaky, once symptoms arise, damage is done

Dr. Hong cautions, “ Glaucoma is a slow, progressive and silent disease. You don’t hurt from it, and in the initial stages, as the disease develops, you won’t notice any visual disabilities, such as blurry vision. Once the damage has progressed, it starts to affect your peripheral vision.

If you don’t visit an eye doctor regularly, by the time you notice something is wrong, it’s too late to reverse the vision lost. That’s why routine check ups are so important. If you catch it, treat it and control it in time, you should be able to maintain your sight.”

Learn more about glaucoma symptoms and treatments on our website.

You could lose an eye if you avoid your eye doctor

While it’s unfortunate that Fetty lost one eye due to glaucoma, the fact that he was diagnosed with the disease likely allowed his eye doctor to take steps to control the glaucoma in his other eye. You don’t want to get to the point where you lose vision, or worse, need to have your eye removed like Fetty.

As Doctor Hong (who has not treated Fetty Wap) explains, “When you experience end stage glaucoma, the pressure gets so high that it actually causes pain. Most likely, Fetty Wap had his eye removed to eliminate the source of pain. If you catch and treat glaucoma early, it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll get to that stage.”

Dr. Hong uses multiple tools to monitor and diagnose glaucoma

As a glaucoma specialist, Dr. Hong utilizes an array of tools to help ensure optimum outcomes for her glaucoma patients. “We do visual field testing, as well as optic nerve scanning to measure the amount of healthy tissue that is present. Our technology also allows us to monitor for minor deteriorations we can’t see with the naked eye during an eye exam,” says Dr. Hong.

Eye doctors can also catch the progression of disease before it translates into vision loss. Dr. Hong says it’s vital to “catch progression, because we can get more aggressive with treatment before devastating vision loss occurs.”

Treatment varies from patient to patient, so talk with your doctor

“We can prescribe topical drops and may also use lasers in the office setting to lower pressure inside the eye. Surgical intervention is an option typically used for moderate stages of glaucoma. However, there have been recent advancements with less invasive surgeries that we can now recommend for patients with earlier stages of glaucoma,” advises Dr. Hong

Learn how the world's tiniest medical device (iStent) offers relief for early-stage glaucoma patients in this earlier post.

Successfully managing glaucoma lasts a lifetime and takes a commitment to following doctor’s orders. According to Dr. Hong, all patients respond in their own unique way to treatment, and “just because you can control the pressure, everyone has a different final target. Your doctor has to monitor with the other modalities and modify treatment over time to achieve stability.”

Categories: Eye Care Tips, Glaucoma
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