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Glaucoma in Seniors

Glaucoma is also known as “sneaky theft of sight” (glaucoma.org).

It is the second leading cause of blindness. Seniors are especially at risk and few people know about it.

Usually glaucoma doesn’t has symptoms but that doesn’t mean it can be ignored. If left untreated, glaucoma can cause vision loss and eventually blindness.

What is Glaucoma?

The term “glaucoma” describes different kinds of eye diseases that damage optic nerve. The job of optic nerve is to transmit impulses to the brain from the retina at the back of the eye. Examples of some types of glaucoma are;

  • Angle-Closure Glaucoma
  • Secondary Glaucoma
  • Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma
  • Normal Angle Glaucoma

All types of glaucoma are related to pressure in the eye. It happens gradually and slowly hence the patient doesn’t feels or notices any symptoms. Acute types of glaucoma accompanies sudden and severe symptoms like redness, blurriness and nausea. Emergency treatment is required to prevent blindness in such cases.

Who is at Risk?

Individuals who meet the below criteria are at an increased risk of developing glaucoma;

  • People age 60+
  • History of eye problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Family history of glaucoma
  • Regular use of corticosteroids
  • African-American or Hispanic-American

How is it diagnosed and treated?

Glaucoma often goes unnoticed since it doesn’t has symptoms unless it’s an acute case. Doctors make their diagnosis based on several medical tests. The main treatment for Glaucoma is prescription eye drops. They must be administered regularly under doctor’s direction.

Glaucoma in Seniors

Since glaucoma usually develops at a later age, it is important for seniors and their caregivers to understand and treat this condition. If left untreated it can cause blindness in seniors.

  1. Regular Eye Exams: Some degree of vision loss occurs as we age. Due to this reason, many seniors are not alarmed. They must be encouraged to see their eye doctor on an annual basis. Caregiver or family member can help provide transportation for senior as they may not be able to drive after getting their eyes dilated.
  2. Regular Treatment: Glaucoma is not classified as fully treatable or curable disease but with regular administration of prescription eye drops, progression may slow down. Seniors who have memory issues may forget about the eye drops. Caregivers can help by offering reminders and even administer eye drops according to doctor’s directions.