Eye problems are one category of health concerns people have to deal with when they hit their senior years. And one specific condition that providers of home health care pay close attention to is glaucoma. Let’s explore how you can help yourself or your loved ones deal with it and improve their sight.
Understanding What Glaucoma Is
Glaucoma is a series of eye conditions where the optic nerve is damaged. This results in either a partial or a total loss of vision in the affected eye. However, there are often no visible symptoms until it is too late.
It might take several years for the condition to develop. However, once it causes damage, it is not reversible. Hence, it can significantly impact your daily life, even if it is just a partial vision loss.
What Causes Glaucoma
Your eye contains a fluid called aqueous humor, in which all of the other parts are suspended in. The fluid regularly drains out through a channel to be replaced. However, that channel can sometimes become blocked. When that happens, pressure can build within the eye. This increased pressure is what damages your optic nerve.
Many things can lead to the blockage, including:
- Particles that get lodged in the channel
- Production of too much fluid in the eye
- Blunt injury
- Severe eye infections
- Blocked blood vessels
All of these can happen without you noticing. That is why it can take a long time to notice something wrong with your eyes.
The Risk Factors
Glaucoma can affect people of different age groups. However, they are most prevalent in those 60 years old and above. Several other factors can affect your overall risk for the condition.
- Ethnicity: People of African American, Russian, Irish, Japanese, and Hispanic descent are among the most likely to develop the condition.
- Family history: If you have family members that already have the condition, you are more susceptible to developing it later too.
- Vision issues: Poor vision and conditions like nearsightedness and farsightedness indicate problems within your eyes. Thinner corneas can also be a risk.
- Medical conditions: Diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease can all contribute to the imbalance of fluids in your body, including your eyes.
- Medications: Certain drugs like steroids and those for bladder control can have side effects that affect the blood flow in your eyes.
Even if you don’t have any issues with your vision right now, it would still be a good idea to have an eye checkup if you have any of these conditions. That will help you better assess your risk for glaucoma.
The Types Of Glaucoma
There are two different types of glaucoma that you can potentially get. The main difference between these types is how the blockage happens.
Open Angle Glaucoma
This type is the most common one you will encounter. Here, the fluid in the eye does not drain properly. Over time, that pressure can build up and damage the optic nerve. This type is relatively painless, so you might not notice it until the point where your vision becomes affected.
Angle Closure Glaucoma
In this type of glaucoma, your iris becomes the specific cause of the blockage. That happens when it becomes too close to the drainage hole and blocks it. It can cause a sudden buildup of pressure in your eye. Doctors of6ten consider this a sudden emergency that requires immediate intervention. The condition is also closely linked to farsightedness and cataracts.
Other Types Of Glaucoma
Aside from the above two, you might encounter several other types. These occur under specific circumstances.
- Secondary glaucoma: This happens when an existing condition causes additional strain on your optic nerve.
- Normal tension glaucoma: In this type, your eye pressure is within normal range. However, another thing might be causing damage to your optic nerve.
- Pigmentary glaucoma: Sometimes, tiny bits of pigment from within your eyes get dislodged and block your drainage canal.
As is with the more common conditions, there might be no overt symptoms. You can only determine what type you might have after a thorough eye examination.
As mentioned earlier, there are often no symptoms in the first few months of the condition. However, as your optic nerve starts to get progressively damaged, you will begin to observe changes in your vision.
In the case of open-angle glaucoma, You might gradually see blind spots in your peripheral vision. These can also eventually affect your central vision if not dealt with early.
As for acute angle closure glaucoma, you might suddenly experience severe eye pain. Headaches and nausea can also accompany this. Other times, you might also notice halos when viewing light sources.
Glaucoma Diagnosis And Treatment
A great thing to know is that glaucoma diagnosis is often a relatively quick process. Doctors assess your vision and inspect your eye for issues. In particular, they would check issues related to your side vision. Doctors might also take pictures of the eye when dilated to inspect its workings.
One thing worth noting is that the damage caused by glaucoma is permanent. However, when detected early, doctors can lessen the effects. Open-angle glaucoma is the easiest to treat. The following are the most common methods employed.
These lower the creation of fluids in the eyes, alleviating the pressure. However, they might have side effects like redness, eye irritation, or allergies. Because of that, your doctor might create a special formulation to lessen these effects.
Doctors can prescribe several different types of laser surgery for glaucoma. Each of these drains the fluid in your eyes in different ways. What’s great about laser surgery is that it is done within 30 minutes and the recovery time is fast.
In some cases, you might also undergo more traditional surgical procedures. Here, doctors may create a new channel within your eye to drain the fluid. They could also insert a fine tube for the same purpose. Depending on the situation, you might have to undergo several operations.
Living With Glaucoma
Despite the above treatments, glaucoma is a lifelong condition that you or your elderly loved ones have to live with. However, you can still manage it through some healthy practices.
Do Regular Exercises
This one might come as a surprise. But regular exercise can help you manage glaucoma. That helps improve the blood flow to your optic nerves, ensuring they are well nourished. Home health care providers can help you develop the right program for this purpose.
A healthy diet of green leafy vegetables and fish can help you maintain your vision. It does not cure glaucoma but it would help you better adapt to the condition. On the other hand, you would want to cut down on caffeine and caffeinated drinks, as these can increase the pressure on your eyes.
Nutrition And Diet For Seniors
Protect Your Eyes
Proper eye care is vital for ensuring that your glaucoma is managed well. One particular aspect you should be careful of is wearing contact lenses. Ensure that you use the prescribed eye drops when putting on your lenses. Also, note that some medications might change your vision prescription. So, consult your doctors before proceeding.
Get The Best Home Health Care For Glaucoma
Glaucoma might seem scary at first, and it does affect your life significantly. But with proper care, you can live with it better. And Amavi is ready to give you the best home health care for it. Contact us today and see a brighter future ahead of you.