Tips for Living with Glaucoma
More than 2.2 million Americans aged 40 years and older have glaucoma. Worldwide, about 60 million people have the disease. It may surprise you to learn that the majority of these individuals will not go blind. In fact, many who are diagnosed early enough will not lose much vision at all.
Glaucoma is the leading cause of preventable blindness in North America.It is estimated that as many as 4 million people in North America are effected and that nearly half of those have not yet been diagnosed.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma is an eye disease that is characterized by an increase of pressure within the eye. Over time, this pressure causes changes in the retina and damage to the optic nerve. Glaucoma that is left untreated can result in blind spots in the peripheral field and can progress to total vision loss. in most cases, patient's with glaucoma have no symptoms until significant and irreversible damage has been done. it is, therefore, crucial that individuals (particularly those over the age of 40) get regular eye exams that include glaucoma screenings.
While anyone can develop glaucoma, certain groups are at higher risk for developing the disease. These include:
- Those over the age of 60
- African Americans over the age of 40
- Those who have a family history of glaucoma
- Those who have poor vision
- Those who have diabetes
Once a patient has been diagnosed with glaucoma, it is essential that treatment begin as soon as possible to help minimize the risk of permanent vision loss. Unfortunately, there is no cure for glaucoma. Treatment is, instead, designed to relieve symptoms and to prevent further damage.
Possible Treatments for Glaucoma
There are three treatment options for most cases of glaucoma. These are:
- Eye drops - used to reduce or drain fluid in the eye. Side effects can include redness, stinging, irritation of the eye, and blurred vision.
- Laser surgery - designed to increase the flow of fluid from the eye or to eliminate fluid blockages.
- Microsurgery - involves a surgical procedure called trabeculectomy. This creates a new channel to drain fluid from the eye, thereby, reducing pressure.
Tips for Living With Glaucoma
As a glaucoma patient, there are steps you can take to properly manager your disease and prevent further damage.
1. Understand Your Condition - Learn as much as possible regarding the disease. Educate yourself regarding treatment options.
2. Manage you medications - Make sure you take your medications as prescribed. Scheduling a specific time for medication is often the best way of ensuring you do not miss a dose. In addition, post notes make great reminders as well. Consider storing your drops near your toothbrush or near your morning coffee cup. If you have more than one eye drop, number the bottles to ensure you take them in order. If you have decreased vision, it may be helpful to wrap colored rubber bands around the bottles to allow you to distinguish between them.
3. Listen to your instincts - If you feel that your glaucoma is worsening, it is important that you act as soon as possible. This is essential to preventing further vision damage. Contact your eye doctor and make sure you keep all appointments scheduled.