Most people know that glaucoma has something to do with the eyes, but not much beyond that unless their aging loved one is at risk or has recently been diagnosed. Glaucoma is a leading cause of total blindness in the United States among seniors, so it’s very important for family caregivers to educate themselves on the disease and how it can affect their elderly relatives.
As the first steps to understanding more about glaucoma, family caregivers can take in these 5 important questions and answers:
1. What is glaucoma?
Within each eye is a fluid that stays at a constant pressure to ensure optimum eye health. When that fluid is not able to drain properly, it can cause pressure to build up. Too much eye pressure leads to damage of the optical nerve, the pathway that delivers visual stimuli to the brain. Common risk factors for developing glaucoma include a family history of the disease, racial background and current health in other areas.
2. How does glaucoma impact an elderly person?
Glaucoma can cause blurred vision, tunnel vision, headaches, and eventually blindness. Of course, vision issues affect how seniors can live their daily life. When combined with other common health issues, many seniors are no longer able to live independently and rely on family caregivers and home care providers both day and night. There is no cure for glaucoma so early treatment is essential to preserving vision for as long as possible.
3. How is glaucoma detected?
While there are common symptoms of glaucoma, these are not usually noticeable to the aging adult until the disease has progressed over several years. The best way to detect glaucoma early is via an eye exam. Eye doctors can detect glaucoma very early in its development, giving plenty of time to develop a treatment plan that has the best chance of slowing or even stopping the progress. It’s important for family caregivers and home care providers to schedule regular appointments and do what is necessary to help seniors get there.
4. Can glaucoma be prevented?
There are several things that seniors can do to reduce the risk of developing glaucoma, especially with the help of family caregivers and home care providers. These include eating a healthy diet and increasing omega-3 fatty acids, as approved by a doctor. Controlling other health issues that may influence glaucomas, such as high or low blood pressure and diabetes, is also important. While there is no cure for glaucoma, early detection can do a lot to start treatments and monitor the disease appropriately.
5. What are the typical treatments for glaucoma?
If glaucoma is detected by the eye doctor, they will prescribe medicated eye drops to control the intraocular eye pressure. These drops should be taken consistently, so if seniors have problems with memory, motor control or general medication management, family caregivers and home care providers should remind them every day. Laser treatments are also successful at draining fluid from the eye as needed.