Even though it is the second leading cause of blindness, few people know about glaucoma. Seniors are especially at risk and need to know the facts.
More than 3 million people in the US have glaucoma. Many are seniors. Many don’t know they have the condition. However, this symptomless disease can be stopped before it does more damage.
The month of January is a time for spreading information about health problems. Glaucoma is one such disease. Many people are aware that glaucoma affects eyesight, but few have the facts straight. Since glaucoma can be very serious and affects many seniors, it is important to learn about this “sneaky thief of sight.”
What is glaucoma?
The term “glaucoma” actually describes different kinds of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve. Each kind of glaucoma has its own unique features. All are related to pressure in the eye. Most progress gradually and subtly. As a result, many people experience no symptoms. Some examples of types of glaucoma include:
- Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma
- Angle-Closure Glaucoma
- Secondary Glaucoma
- Normal Tension Glaucoma
How serious is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is considered a sneaky disease because it presents with so few symptoms. However, the disease is serious. If left untreated, glaucoma causes vision loss and eventually blindness.
Acute types of glaucoma are the exception and are also serious. They are accompanied by sudden, severe symptoms like redness, nausea, and severe pain with blurriness or visual disturbances. Emergency treatment is necessary to prevent blindness.
Who is at risk for glaucoma?
Individuals who meet the following criteria have an elevated risk of this disease:
- Age 60 or older
- African-American or Hispanic-American
- History of eye problems
- Family history of glaucoma
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Regular use of corticosteroids
How is glaucoma diagnosed?
Since glaucoma often presents with no symptoms unless the disease is acute, doctors make their diagnosis based on several tests. Medical tests for glaucoma include:
- Tonometry (internal pressure)
- Pachymetry (corneal thickness)
- Perimetry (vision range and scope)
- Comparisons over time (photos of the optic nerve)
What are treatment options for glaucoma?
Prescription eye drops are the main treatment for glaucoma. They must be administered correctly and regularly, according to a doctor’s directions. In severe cases, glaucoma can be treated with prescription medications or surgery.
Currently, glaucoma is not classified as a fully preventable or curable disease. However, glaucoma can be treated to prevent the disease from doing more damage.
How can you help seniors ensure their eye health?
Since glaucoma is a serious disease, it is important for seniors and their caregivers to take steps to monitor for and treat the condition. Seniors often need help in this process, and you can help by encouraging regular eye checks and ensuring treatment is treated properly.
Due to tremors, vision issues, and other health problems, seniors may have difficulty administering their drops themselves. Memory challenges can also cause seniors to forget this important part of their routine. Assisting Hands Home Care serving Columbus, OH can help by offering reminders and assisting with administration of eye drops according to doctors’ directions.
If you or your loved one needs assistance in the home, contact us today for a free consultation.
Sources: ClearCare, Healthline, glaucoma.org