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Learn More About Glaucoma for Glaucoma Awareness Month This January
Glaucoma is one of the major causes of blindness in the United States. It causes around 10% of the total cases of blindness nationwide. This condition can vary in severity, so having it doesn’t necessarily mean that someone’s vision will become impaired. However, there is a significant risk of blindness if the condition is not treated.
What Is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is an umbrella term for a group of eye conditions that happen when the optic nerve is damaged. Usually, it occurs when there is a buildup of pressure inside the eye. Then, that pressure injures the optic nerve, making it hard for the nerve to transmit information from the eye to the brain and back.
There are a few kinds of glaucoma. The main form, open-angle glaucoma, makes up around 90% of all cases.
How Is Glaucoma Diagnosed?
The test for glaucoma is surprisingly simple. There are three primary tests used to find and diagnose this condition. They include:
- Tonometry (known as the “puff test”): It is usually conducted at an annual eye exam to measure eye pressure.
- Gonioscopy: This is a painless examination of the front part of the eye that measures the angle between the iris and cornea.
- Ophthalmoscopy: The optometrist will dilate the eyes to visualize the nerve at the back of the eye.
If these tests come back positive for glaucoma, it will be necessary to seek treatment.
How Glaucoma Affects Seniors
Did you know that around 75% of those with glaucoma-related legal blindness are seniors? Glaucoma can be detrimental for seniors for a few reasons.
Increased risk of falls: When vision is impaired or declining, it may lead to trouble with depth perception and how a senior judges the space around them. These symptoms can lead to falls, car crashes, and other accidents that are difficult for seniors to recover from.
Increased risk of depression: Those with glaucoma may no longer be able to do their daily tasks independently or may get hurt and need extra hospital care. As a result, depression may develop. The American Foundation for the Blind says that over 57% of seniors living with vision impairment are at risk of developing mild or moderate depression.
Loss of Independence: Vision loss is a genuine possibility, especially with untreated glaucoma. As a result, those with glaucoma may need help bathing, preparing food, going to bed or getting out of bed, getting dressed, and other tasks.
Improvements in Medicine Have Provided Solutions
For open-angle glaucoma, some simple treatments are used to reduce eye pressure. These may include:
- Eye drops that are made to reduce eye pressure with parasympathomimetics, prostaglandins, and/or beta-blockers
- Oral medications, such as treatments for diabetes or heart issues contributing to the development of glaucoma
For more severe cases, surgery may be advised. Laser and traditional surgeries are available to address the high pressure in the eye. During surgery, the goal is to get the fluid ducts to work properly and to open the angle of the eye correctly again.
January is Glaucoma Awareness Month, so now is a good time for you and your loved ones to schedule an eye exam to check for Glaucoma and other eye diseases. Remember, there are no early symptoms of glaucoma, which is why many people don’t know that they have it. There are some risk factors for it, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or glaucoma within your family’s medical history. The Glaucoma Research Foundation suggests having a baseline eye screening starting at the age of 40. Based on the results of this test, your optometrist can advise how frequently you should be screened for glaucoma.
Visiting the eye doctor regularly makes it easier to diagnose this condition early, so simpler treatments, like eye drops, may help stop or reverse it. Tribute Senior Living is committed to helping our community members live life to the fullest, and as always, we are available should you have any questions, regardless of the topic.