According to the National Eye Health Education Program, glaucoma is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness among seniors within the United States (1). Despite over 3 million estimated Americans having glaucoma, about only half know they have it (2). This is due to the lack of any noticeable signs or symptoms of glaucoma until the disease has reached its late stages. With no current cure for the disease, taking initiative with regular dilated-eye examinations from your doctor can be the best way to detect glaucoma before any significant damage occurs.
Glaucoma occurs when there is damage to the optic nerve, which is essential for good eyesight, due to high pressure in the eye (3). The most common type of glaucoma, Open-angle glaucoma, causes tunnel vision in its advanced stages and eventually leads to total blindness in the eye if untreated.
What exactly Causes Glaucoma?
As the optic nerve becomes more damaged, the nerve gradually deteriorates causing certain blind spots to occur in your vision. With Open-angle glaucoma these blind spots appear in your peripheral or central vision. This nerve damage usually occurs because of high pressure in the eye due to a buildup of fluid called aqueous humor (3).
Preventing the Risk of Glaucoma
It is important to understand that vision loss due to glaucoma cannot be regained. If treated early, eye damage can be slowed or prevented completely. A comprehensive eye-exam is the best way to detect glaucoma within its early stages. According to studies from American Academy of Ophthalmology you should get an eye-exam accordingly: (6)
- Every five to 10 years if you are under the age of 40
- Every two to four years if you are between the ages of 40 to 54
- Every one to three years if you are between the ages of 55 to 64
- And every one to two years if you are above the age of 65
Who’s at Risk?
Glaucoma can occur to anyone at any age; however, it is the leading cause of blindness among the elderly over the age of 60 (3). Other factors associated with glaucoma are:
- Previous family history of glaucoma
- Elderly with high degree of myopia, hypertension, and diabetes
- Seniors with high eye pressure
- Personal history of eye injuries
On top of these factors, people with African, Hispanic, or Asian heritage have a “higher than normal” risk of getting glaucoma (6). If you fall into any of the high-risk areas, it is highly recommended to talk to your optometrist for a dilated-eye exam.
To reduce the risk of losing your vision and risking your health, proactiveness is key. Aside from regular eye exams, spreading awareness to those who may have a high risk to glaucoma can help someone take the initial step of getting the care they need. Additionally, donating to efforts such as the Glaucoma Research Foundation, can help fund glaucoma research towards a cure and raise awareness.
Although preventable if caught early, the challenges glaucoma could have on an individual can have a serious impact on one’s daily life. But you don’t have to go through it alone. Here at Assistance in Home Care we provide personalized 24-Hour in-home care services so that you or a loved one can continue to live comfortably and safe within your own home. Our in-home care services, such as companion care for someone with glaucoma, provides a customized care plan to empower our clients to live each day to its fullest while maximizing their independence and preserving their dignity.
National Eye Health Education Program: https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/resources-for-health-educators/glaucoma-resources
American Family Physician: https://www.aafp.org/afp/1999/0701/p99.html
American Academy of Ophthalmology: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-is-glaucoma