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 whether.a drug's benefits outweigh its potential risks and the risks of per--
 mitting t:he disease to progress°
 22. In the context o-f glaucoma-therapy, it must be kept in mind thai
 glaucoma, untreated, progcessivelydestroys the optic nerve and results {n
 eventual blindness. The 8anger, thane to patients owit:._ glaucoma is an
 : ,o
 #rcetrievab_e-|oss of their sight.
 23. Glaucoma oiS. not a mortal disease, but a highly specific, selectively.
 incapacitating condition. Glaucoma assaults and destroys the patient's most
 evolved and critical sensory ability, his or her vision. The vast majority of
 patients aff1_cted with glaucoma are adults over the age of thirty. The onset
 of blindness in middle age or later throws patients into a wholely alien world.
 They can no longer do the work they once did. They are unable to read a
 newspaper, drive a car, shop, _'alk freely and do all the myriad things sighted
 people take for granted° Without lengthy periods of retaining, adaptation and
 great effort these individuals often lose their sense-of identity_ and ability to
 functiOno Those who are young enough or strong_willed enough will regain a
 sense of place, hold meaningful jobs, but many aspects of the life they once
 took for granted cannot be recaptured. Other patients may never fuily adjust to
 their new, uncertain circumstances.
 24. Blindness is a very grave consequence. Protecting patients from
 blindness is considered so important that, for ophtholmolog_sts generally, it
 justifies the use of toxic medicines and uncertain surgical procedures which in
 other contexts might be considered '_unsafe_ _ In practice, physicians often
 provide glaucoma patients _ith drugs which have many serious adverse effects.
 25. There are only a _imited number of drugs available for .the

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