It’s Glaucoma Awareness Month and Senior Living Experts is focusing on glaucoma care for seniors. Although glaucoma can occur in anyone, from babies to seniors, our focus is going to be on senior care & facts.
Glaucoma Care for Seniors – Tips & Facts
- Blindness – Cataracts is the leading cause of blindness; while Glaucoma is the second leading cause for blindness in the world.
- What is Glaucoma – This video, less than 2 minutes long, explains what glaucoma is. When surveyed by the Prevent Blindness America Survey 50% of those surveyed understood that glaucoma had something to do with the pressure in the eye but really didn’t understand exactly what it was or if it could be treated.
- Who Has It – It is estimated that 3 million Americans have glaucoma and yet only half of them even know they have it. The biggest reason is that people don’t get regular eye exams.
- Risk Factors – Many assume that increased pressure in the eye means you have glaucoma. This is not what glaucoma is; nor is this what “causes” glaucoma. Click here to review the risk factors for glaucoma. These risk factors can include health issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure and more. Family history of glaucoma is a big risk factor and puts you in a risk group that requires testing more often.
- No Cure – There is currently no cure for glaucoma and no way to repair the damage that it causes to the eye. However, there are treatments that can help you slow degenerative progress down.
- Types of Glaucoma – The most common form of glaucoma is open-angle glaucoma. There are other types of glaucoma, including the less common forms, that can occur.
Glaucoma Care for Seniors – Why is Age a Factor?
- Testing – The most effective testing method for detecting glaucoma is with a comprehensive dilated eye exam done by a professional. Seniors 65 and older should get an exam every two years; along with those who are at increased risk. Beginning at age 40 the average comprehensive eye exam that includes glaucoma testing should be done every 4 years until the age of 65.
- Symptoms – According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, the most common type of glaucoma has virtually no symptoms. The truth of the matter is that by the time you notice symptoms of glaucoma damage may already be done and your vision has been compromised.
- Age Increases Risk Factor – As you age your risk factor or glaucoma increases. However, if you have regular comprehensive eye exams and embrace a healthy lifestyle you can reduce your risk for getting glaucoma.
- Vision Impairment – 9 million people in the U.S. are affected by vision impairment. Vision impairment is very prevalent in seniors. Vision impairment can adversely affect the quality of life for seniors (no matter what the source of impairment comes from).
- Reducing Your Risk – There are ways you can reduce your risk for glaucoma. Early detection is the best way to reduce the damage that can be caused by glaucoma. The GRF discusses other options for reducing your risk of developing the disease.
Glaucoma Care for Seniors (Quality of Life)
When your vision is impaired it can affect many aspects of your life; creating a very real decline in your overall quality of life. Areas that can be affected by vision impairment include:
- Night Vision
- Inability or Decreased Ability to Read
- Dry or Tired Eyes
- Loss of Vision
- Complete Blindness
- Peripheral Vision Loss
- Eye Pain
- Halos Around Lights
- Weeping Eyes
- Blurred Vision
- Loss of Distance Vision
- Decreased Ability to Adjust to Light Changes
- Blind Spots/Patches of Vision Loss
If you consider each of these areas that can be affected by vision problems, you can see how your quality of life can be changed forever. Unfortunately glaucoma cannot be fixed and there is no way to repair damage created by glaucoma.
Senior Living with Vision Problems
Special conditions, equipment and measures can be taken to make your life easier if you’ve lost vision to glaucoma. Many senior living facilities have access to special computers, large type books, audio books and more; all as a means for making your quality of life better.
However, the best option is early detection and proper eye care. This is one of the biggest reasons why glaucoma care for seniors is so important to quality of life.
Cited Works & Websites:
Bright Focus Foundation Website
The Mayo Clinic – Diseases & Conditions, Glaucoma
Glaucoma Research Foundation Website
National Eye Institute (NEI) Website
Photo by LordFerguson