Sight is one of the primary ways that most humans explore our world. It’s how we watch movies, read books, look at photos to bring back happy memories, and keep ourselves safe from potential dangers. For people with glaucoma, however, sight is no longer easy to take for granted. For Glaucoma Awareness Month this January, let’s explore a few essential things to know about how glaucoma can affect you and your loved ones–and the best way to treat it.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a leading cause of vision loss and blindness in the United States. This disease results from damage to the optic nerve that connects your eyes to your brain. When fluid builds up in your eye due to reduced drainage, it can put pressure on your optic nerve and begin to damage and kill off nerve fibers.
Glaucoma can be challenging to diagnose early–in fact, half of those who suffer from this disease don’t know they have it. As the pressure in your eye damages your optic nerve, blind spots will appear in your vision. However, these areas are difficult to notice, and often people with glaucoma won’t realize something is wrong until they’ve already lost most or all of their vision in that eye.
What Are the Risk Factors for Glaucoma?
Anyone can be at risk of getting glaucoma. However, some people are in higher-risk groups and should be especially careful to get screened. Those groups include:
- Everyone over age 60, especially Latinos.
- African Americans over age 40.
- People with a family history of glaucoma.
- People with diabetes, migraines, high blood pressure, and poor blood circulation.
- Farsighted or nearsighted people.
- Those who have had an eye injury.
- People who use long-term steroid medications
- People whose optic nerves are more sensitive to pressure.
Open Angle vs. Closed Angle Glaucoma
There are two primary types of glaucoma: open and closed angle. Open-angle glaucoma is the most common and involves the slow buildup of pressure and gradual loss of vision described above. This type of glaucoma is painless and difficult to detect.
Closed-angle glaucoma, however, results when the pressure in your eye builds up very quickly. Symptoms of this type of glaucoma come on very rapidly and include:
- Blurry vision
- Severe eye pain
- Rainbow-colored rings or halos around lights
These symptoms signify an acute glaucoma attack and represent an emergency. Contact your ophthalmologist immediately to avoid the risk of permanent blindness.
Are There Treatments for Glaucoma?
Unfortunately, there’s no cure for glaucoma. Because the symptoms are caused by nerve fibers dying, there’s currently no way to grow them again. However, early treatment can prevent damage and protect your vision for years to come. That’s what makes glaucoma awareness so important.
A comprehensive eye exam is the only way for a doctor to determine whether you have glaucoma. During a comprehensive eye exam, your doctor will measure your eye pressure, inspect your eye’s drainage angle, examine your optic nerve for damage, and check for any existing blind spots in your vision. Exams such as these are crucial in preventing blindness because optic nerve damage can be avoided but not repaired.
For Glaucoma Awareness Month this January, schedule an eye exam and ensure you aren’t at risk for vision loss. And for those who have already experienced a partial or total loss of sight, an in-home caregiver is a great advocate to help make daily tasks more accessible, such as shopping, cleaning, and taking care of the house. If you’re interested in how an in-home caregiver can improve your quality of life, Generations Home Care would love to talk to you today.
About Generations Home Care
Generations Home Care personalized in-home care and support services help those recovering from illness, injury, or surgery, living with a chronic disease, or dealing with the natural process of aging. We help people live a fuller, healthier, and independent life.
Our caregivers are trained in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended COVID-19 safety precautions. We offer levels of care ranging from companionship, to respite for the primary family caregiver, to homemaking services, to assistance with activities of daily living, to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Generations Home Care takes a holistic approach and emphasizes a consistent, client-centered plan of care.
Our Specialty Services Include:
- Rehab or hospital-to-home programs for safe discharge.
- Short-term post-operative care during recovery periods.
- Non-medical life management services for people with chronic conditions.
- Veteran’s connection to care program.
- Live-in services and couples care.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the contact form on our website.