The Glaucoma Research Foundation believes more than three million Americans have glaucoma. Only around one and a half million realize it. As many as 12 percent of all cases of blindness are linked to glaucoma. It’s the second leading cause of blindness in the world.
For Glaucoma Awareness Month, it’s time to take a closer look at this disease. The only way to know you have it is by going for eye exams. The sooner it’s diagnosed, the sooner treatments can begin.
What is Glaucoma?
The optic nerve’s role is to send messages from the retina to the brain. When it’s damaged by high pressure within the eye, it impacts what you see or if you can even see at all. Glaucoma is the disease linked to this increased pressure.
There are several types of glaucoma. Open-angle glaucoma occurs when the channel between the iris and cornea is open, but something blocks fluid from getting through. That causes the eye fluid pressure to increase and press against the optic nerve. It’s the most common form and has symptoms like tunnel vision or blind spots in central and peripheral vision.
Angle-closure glaucoma occurs when the iris starts to bulge and blocks the drainage. The eye fluid’s pressure then pushes on the optic nerve. It can happen slowly or suddenly. Symptoms include a sudden severe headache, blurred vision, nausea, eye pain, and halos.
In some cases, nothing blocks the fluid and the pressure of fluid remains normal yet the optic nerve is damaged anyway. It may be the result of plaque build-up restricting the amount of blood flow.
Finally, pigment from the iris may get into the drainage channels and block the flow of eye fluids. This puts pressure on the optic nerve. This form is not as common and is usually seen in people who jog regularly.
What Happens Next?
Glaucoma is only caught through yearly eye exams. You need to keep your parents on a schedule to get their eye pressure checked. If glaucoma is diagnosed during an eye exam, eye drops may be prescribed to help alleviate the pressure. Daily exercise, regular visits to the doctor, and protective glasses are other recommendations.
As the vision changes, your parent may not be able to drive safely. Giving up the keys doesn’t have to mean giving up freedom. Hire in-home care aides to drive your mom or dad to area businesses, medical offices, and stores. Transportation is one of the easiest in-home care service to arrange and it ensures your parent remains active within the community.