What should a caregiver know about glaucoma in the elderly?
How does the life of your loved one change as a result of it?
What can you do to help them?
In this post, we’ll discuss glaucoma in the elderly and everything you need to know as a caregiver.
Glaucoma in the elderly – Here’s what you should know
What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is the leading cause of blindness in adults 60 years and over.
The optic nerve, which is extremely essential for eyesight, is damaged in glaucoma.
This is usually caused by unusually high pressure in a person’s eye.
There are no clear warning signs that a person is developing glaucoma.
It develops gradually until it is at an advanced stage.
Vision loss due to glaucoma is typically permanent.
Thus taking good care of your eyes to prevent it from developing, is the best way to stay clear of its’ effects.
Types of Glaucoma
There are different types of glaucoma which all come with different symptoms.
Open angle glaucoma comes with patchy blind spots in your peripheral or central vision, frequently in both eyes and tunnel vision once the disease advances.
The symptoms of acute-angle glaucoma include severe headache, blurred vision, eye pain, nausea, vomiting, eye redness and the person may report seeing halos around lights.
As a caregiver, if you ignore these symptoms, your loved one could become completely blind. Early treatment is the best way to deal with glaucoma.
- High pressure in the eyes. For some reason that doctors and scientists cannot fully explain, certain people develop high pressure in their eyes. This happens when the fluid in your eye (also called aqueous humor) doesn’t drain from your eye the way it should normally. Once this happens, there is too much fluid in the eye and this causes pressure on the optic nerve. Eventually, this pressures causes damage to the optic nerve which then leads to glaucoma.
- People who are black, Asian or Hispanic, are more likely to develop glaucoma.
- You’re at a high risk of the disease if you have someone in your family with it.
- Diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure can increase the risk for glaucoma.
- Eye injuries.
- Having certain types of eye surgeries can increase your risk as well.
- Using corticosteroid medications for a long time – certain eye drops contain this – can also increase eye pressure and cause glaucoma later on in life.
- Being age 60 and over is also another huge risk factor for glaucoma.
What can you do as a caregiver?
This is where it’s important to know your family health history as a caregiver.
If you don’t know, have that conversation with your elderly loved one.
If your elderly loved one has any of the risk factors listed, glaucoma testing with an eye doctor should be on your calendar. Early intervention is the best way to prevent blindness.
Encourage your loved one to wear eye protection when they are in the sun.
Getting regular dilated eye exams can also detect the disease early so it can be treated. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that people get comprehensive eye exams – which include a dilated eye exam – every 1-2 years if a person is older than 65 years.
Preventing glaucoma starts with early action.
Knowing the symptoms and the risk factors will help your elderly loved one enjoy good eyesight for years to come.