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How Much Do You Know About Glaucoma?

January 10, 2020

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month, a perfect time to learn more about this eye condition that affects more than 3 million Americans. Although glaucoma can occur at any age, adults over 60 are at a higher risk. This makes it especially important for seniors to be aware of the risk factors and symptoms of glaucoma. This is one condition you’ll want to have diagnosed early, before it causes permanent vision loss.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases caused by damage to the optic nerve. The optic nerve helps you see – it is responsible for sending visual information to your brain from your eyes.

In most cases, glaucoma is caused by increased eye pressure due to buildup of fluid that flows through the inside of your eye. Other less common causes of glaucoma include:

  • Blocked blood vessels in your eye
  • Severe eye infections
  • An eye injury
  • Inflammatory conditions

Glaucoma Risk Factors

It’s important to know that glaucoma can affect anyone, at any age. But there are several factors that put some individuals at a higher risk. Your risk factor for glaucoma is higher if you:

  • Have a family history of glaucoma
  • Are of African, Asian, and Hispanic descent
  • Are over 60
  • Have high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease or sickle cell anemia
  • Are severely nearsighted or have generally poor vision
  • Use certain steroid medications

Signs and Symptoms of Glaucoma

There are several types of glaucoma and the signs and symptoms are different according to the type.

Open angle glaucoma is the most common. In individuals with this type, the eye fluid drains too slowly, causing pressure to build. There are no warning signs in the early stages, but blind spots develop in your peripheral vision as the disease progresses.

In angle closure glaucoma, the eye drainage system isn’t draining correctly due to being narrow or a blockage. Angle closure glaucoma is considered a medical emergency in most cases. It can appear suddenly. Symptoms include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Severe eye pain
  • Eye redness
  • Seeing halos around light
  • Headaches
  • Vomiting and nausea

Treatment of Glaucoma

To diagnose glaucoma, your eye doctor would perform an eye exam, checking for deterioration in the eye. Your eye doctor would also measure your optic nerve, eye pressure and cornea size.

In glaucoma treatment, the goal is to reduce eye pressure and help prevent any further vision loss. Medicated eye drops are usually prescribed to be applied several times of the day. In more advanced stages, additional medication and/or surgery may be required.

Glaucoma can’t be prevented or cured, so early diagnosis and treatment is critical.

Use Glaucoma Awareness Month as the time to schedule your yearly eye exam. Regular eye testing is the best way to catch glaucoma before it progresses and leads to permanent into vision loss. Schedule your eye appointment today!

Supportive Services at Episcopal SeniorLife Communities

At Episcopal SeniorLife Communities, we offer supportive services and volunteer staff that can provide transportation to and from your medical appointments, including the eye doctor. Scheduled transportation is just one of the many convenient amenities and features we have to offer at our senior living communities throughout Monroe County in the Rochester, NY area. We invite you and your loved ones to visit us in person to learn more about our inspired senior living options. Contact us today!

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