1 – Glaucoma is a leading cause of irreversible blindness in the United States and the world.
According to BrightFocus, a nonprofit organization dedicated to funding research to help defeat Alzheimer’s disease, macular degeneration, and glaucoma, more than three million Americans are living with glaucoma. 2.7 million of those diagnosed are aged 40 and older. (BrightFocus)
2 – People age 60 and older are at a higher risk for glaucoma.
The Glaucoma Research Foundation (GRF) reports that glaucoma is much more common among older people. You are six times more likely to get glaucoma if you are over 60 years old.
3 – The two most common types of glaucoma are open-angle and angle-closure glaucoma.
Open-angle glaucoma is the most common form of the disease. The drainage angle formed by the cornea and iris remains open, but the trabecular meshwork is partially blocked. This causes pressure in the eye to gradually increase. This pressure damages the optic nerve. It happens so slowly that you may lose vision before you’re even aware of a problem.
Angle-closure glaucoma, also called closed-angle glaucoma, occurs when the iris bulges forward to narrow or block the drainage angle formed by the cornea and iris. As a result, fluid can’t circulate through the eye and pressure increases. This can occur suddenly or gradually. (The Mayo Clinic)
4 – Many forms of glaucoma have no noticeable warnings.
The Mayo Clinic explains that many forms of glaucoma have no warning signs. The effect is so gradual that you may not notice a change in vision until the condition is at an advanced stage. Some studies have shown that perhaps half of people living with glaucoma aren’t even aware they have the disease. (BrightFocus)
Noticeable symptoms of acute angle-closure glaucoma include severe headache, eye pain, and blurred vision while open-angle glaucoma symptoms can include blind spots in your peripheral version and increased tunnel vision, which can lead to blindness.
5 – Glaucoma can increase your risk for other health issues.
Aging.com, a leading provider of health, lifestyle, and financial resources for seniors in the U.S. notes that along with vision loss, glaucoma can have direct, dire effects on your overall health. Using data from the American Foundation for the Blind, their article Glaucoma: A Guide for Seniors noted several health issues can stem from vision loss or total blindness, including an increased risk of falling, depression, and increasing inability to manage basic daily activities like chores, hygiene routines, and hobbies.
6 – Regular eye exams are needed for a proper diagnosis and to prevent damage to the optic nerve.
Eye doctors offer several tests to help detect glaucoma. Using visual acuity tests, visual field tests, dilated eye exams, tonometry, pachymetry, ophthalmoscopy, gonioscopy, and optic nerve imaging, optometrists can diagnose glaucoma and create treatment plans. (BrightFocus)
7 – Your in-home caregiver can help.
BrightFocus advises that individuals at high risk for glaucoma, like seniors over the age of 60, should have a dilated pupil eye examination, including a visual field test, at least every one to two years or as directed by a doctor. Your in-home caregiver can help to schedule these appointments, provide assistance getting to and from the clinic, and can help create an action plan based on your optometrist’s recommendations. For those already dealing with the effects of glaucoma, an in-home caregiver can provide comfort, stability, and dignified care to help maintain daily routines and a high quality of life despite vision impairment.
If you are interested in seeking in-home assistance for glaucoma-related needs, please reach out to your local AmeriCare and we will work with you to find the right fit for your family.