Is “Pre-Glaucoma” the new “Fibromyalgia” — an invented medical label meant to scare via “diagnosis” without medical certainty? Is “Pre-Glaucoma” a new insurance power naming scheme invented to earn easy money for doctors by giving them the means to get paid by checking off a box on a form?
Friday, I visited the eye doctor. I was stunned to hear how many patients in the waiting area were there to watch a Glaucoma video because their eye exam revealed them to be “Pre-Glaucomic.” Since there’s no such thing as a coincidence, I began to wonder again about the relationship between medical diagnoses and back-end insurance money.
There were too many people there of varying Race, age and ethnicity to believe the four MDs in that office were not in some incredible — and probably improbable — way skewing a random sample into a fanciful “pre-diagnosis” of “Pre-Glaucoma.” I’ve had elevated eye pressure in one eye for at least 15 years. I have super-thick corneas so that can play a role in providing a higher pressure than normal.
Every time I get an in-depth eye exam, the elevated pressure initially concerns my doctor until he reads through my history again and sees that pressure, for me at least, is in the normal range. On Friday, my doctor told me my eye had the same pressure as before but he was labeling it “Pre-Glaucoma” this time. I watched him tick it off on my insurance sheet. When I asked him what changed in his evaluation of my eye and why was I now on “Glaucoma watch” when previously I only had “elevated pressure,” he gave me an odd look as if he didn’t understand my question.
I wanted to know what had changed other than the labeling. I was told nothing changed. All the numbers were the same. “We just have more intensive diagnostic equipment now and we can see things earlier than we could before.” Okay, that made sense to me. Technology always presses us forward; but why the “Pre-Glaucoma” label now? Don’t you either have Glaucoma or not have Glaucoma? Is it possible to be “Pre-Pregnant” or “Pre-HIV positive” or is there a disconnect going on in the usage of the “pre-” diagnosis label?
I was told the history of the eye and other factors pointed to putting me on Glaucoma watch and “elevated pressure” and “Pre-Glaucoma” mean the same thing. “We have to keep an eye on your eyes,” I was told without a glint of humor or an ounce of compassion, “and we’ll do it again in six months.”
Am I too narrowly parsing words? Is there a danger being labeled “Pre-Glaucoma” on an insurance form that might somehow come back to bite you later as a no-longer-covered pre-existing condition even though you don’t actually have the disease? How can we fight back to save ourselves from the slapping on of these medical labels that have no real meaning or certainty in healing or positive effect in the best interest of our continued diagnoses?