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Seniors and Glaucoma

Feb 1, 2018 by Nancy Hmieleski, RN, BSN Director of Nursing

Glaucoma is a serious concern, especially for seniors over 60. It’s the leading cause of blindness in seniors, and because it’s relatively painless many don’t even know they have it until they start to lose their vision. Understanding the symptoms of glaucoma is very important for seniors and their families.

Seniors who have glaucoma can sometimes manage their symptoms effectively so that they don’t lose more of their sight. Our caregivers can help seniors who have limited vision by ensuring that they are safe at home. Lifestyle changes and home care remedies can improve glaucoma and eye health as well. A healthy diet full of dark, leafy green vegetables and omega-3 fatty acids, frequent exercise, and sleeping with an elevated head are all recommended.


Symptoms of Glaucoma

While there are five different types of glaucoma, the most common one is open-angle glaucoma. Since it does not show any signs or symptoms except for gradual loss, it’s imperative that older adults visit the ophthalmologist yearly so that any vision changes can be monitored. There is another type of glaucoma called narrow-angle glaucoma, which is considered a medical emergency. If a senior experiences symptoms such as severe eye pain, eye redness, nausea, vomiting, sudden blurred vision, or seeing halos around lights, they should visit their doctor immediately.


Causes of Glaucoma

Most of the time, glaucoma occurs when the fluid inside of the eye does not drain properly. When the fluid builds up, the pressure inside of the eye does as well. This pressure hinders the optic nerve and can lead to vision loss and blindness in time. Glaucoma can also arise in an individual with normal eye pressure if there is poor blood flow to the nerve or the optic nerve is fragile.


Glaucoma Risk Factors

High pressure within the eye is the greatest risk factor for glaucoma. However, other risk factors include old age, thin corneas, steroid use, previous eye injuries, a family history of glaucoma, a history of shock or anemia, and nearsightedness.


Glaucoma Treatments

There are a number of different ways a doctor may treat glaucoma. The most common glaucoma treatment is eye drops. Eye drops work by reducing the formation of eye fluid or increasing its outflow. Redness, allergies, irritation, and stinging are all side effects of glaucoma eye drops so seniors should inform a doctor of any other medications they are allergic to. A doctor may prescribe an oral medication if eye drops do not help. Laser surgery may also be an option for glaucoma and increase the flow of eye fluid for older adults with open-angle glaucoma. For seniors with angle-closure glaucoma, laser surgery may be effective in stopping fluid blockage. Cyclophotocoagulation, trabeculoplasty, and iridotomy are all examples of laser surgeries that may be performed to treat glaucoma. While glaucoma cannot be prevented, it can be controlled if it is diagnosed and treated early. Older adults who make yearly visits to the ophthalmologist can reduce their risk of blindness and enjoy healthy eyes and a higher quality of life throughout their golden years.


If you are experiencing symptoms of glaucoma or are having any issues with your eyes, contact your eye specialist immediately. To learn more how Comfort Keepers can help your senior loved one with glaucoma. please call us at (908) 806-2220 or Toll-Fee at (877) 806-2220.

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