Jan 18, 2018 by Gregg Gammello
Although painless, glaucoma is a very serious eye disease characterized by an increased intraocular pressure that can hinder the optic nerve and cause irreversible damage to the eye. This disease is the leading cause of blindness, common in older adults. In support of National Glaucoma Awareness Month in Lansdale, PA assisted living services would like to share some basic information about known risk factors, causes, symptoms, and treatment of glaucoma.
The biggest glaucoma risk factor is unusually high eye pressure. Other factors that can contribute to developing glaucoma are aging, having a history of glaucoma in the immediate family, thin corneas, being nearsighted, sustaining eye injuries in the past, and previous steroid use.
For most people, glaucoma occurs when intraocular fluids do not drain as they should, slowly causing eye pressure to rise. Cumulating pressure can hinder the function of the optic nerve, leading to vision loss and irreversible blindness. Assisted living professionals point out that glaucoma can also develop in individuals whose eye pressure is normal but their optic nerve may be too fragile or their blood flow to the nerve impaired.
There are five distinct types of this disease, but the most common one is open-angle glaucoma. Since the signs and symptoms of glaucoma are not apparent for this type of the condition, assisted living services suggest that seniors closely monitor any vision changes and visit their ophthalmologist at least once a year.
Another type of glaucoma, known as narrow-angle glaucoma, presents a medical emergency. Older adults who experience symptoms like severe eye pain, nausea, vomiting, sudden blurred vision or eye redness should contact their physician immediately.
There are a couple of different glaucoma treatments a doctor may suggest. The most common treatment option includes eye drops. This treatment can reduce the formation of excessive eye fluid and increase the outflow of the fluids. However, older adults should watch for side effects of this treatment like allergies, stinging in the eye, redness, and irritation. When this therapy is not helpful, oral medication is prescribed instead of eye drops.
In the more advanced stages of open-angle glaucoma, seniors can opt for laser surgery as an effective way of stopping intraocular fluid blockage. Cyclophotocoagulation, trabeculoplasty, and iridotomy are surgical procedures that can be performed to treat glaucoma.
Additionally, known remedies that can slow down the progression of glaucoma and improve eye health include a healthy diet rich in oily fish and dark leafy greens, frequent physical activity, and sleeping with an elevated head to reduce eye pressure.
Though glaucoma is not preventable, it can be controlled and managed when it is diagnosed and treated early. Assisted living professionals would like to encourage seniors to make regular check-ups with an ophthalmologist a priority, as this is essential in reducing the risk of permanent blindness and leading a healthier, more independent lifestyle.