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Glaucoma Awareness Month: Impact on Seniors

Every January, not only do we resolve to make changes for the New Year, but healthcare workers and loved ones alike band together to raise awareness for glaucoma. This disease is a leading cause of preventable blindness in seniors, which makes it imperative for Senior Care facilities, aged care, and home care specialists to be knowledgeable about prevention and the warning signs.

So, Glaucoma Awareness Month provides the necessary education for seniors and their loved ones to ensure glaucoma is properly prevented, managed, and treated.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is an eye condition that often goes undetected, which may lead to serious sight issues and even vision loss. It is caused by damage to the optic nerve, and it can be triggered by an increase in pressure inside the eye. Glaucoma is a very common condition, especially among seniors over the age of 60 and those with a family history of glaucoma. And although glaucoma is currently the leading cause of adult blindness, it can be managed if detected early.

There are two main types of glaucoma: open-angle glaucoma, where fluid builds up slowly in the eye’s drainage angle, and closed-angle glaucoma, where the drainage angle is blocked quickly. Both types of glaucoma can occur without any symptoms or warning signs and may lead to vision loss if left untreated.

As glaucoma progresses, seniors may experience blurry vision, eye discomfort, headaches, difficulty seeing at night, or even complete vision loss. It’s essential to be aware of glaucoma and its potential effects on seniors so that you can help your loved ones stay healthy and safe.

How to Identify a Glaucoma in Seniors

The signs and symptoms of glaucoma can be subtle or pronounced depending on how advanced the glaucoma is. Early glaucoma may not have any noticeable symptoms, but as glaucoma progresses, seniors may experience the following:

  • Blurry vision
  • Eye discomfort or pain
  • Headaches
  • Seeing halos around lights
  • Difficulty seeing at night
  • Loss of peripheral vision or tunnel vision in advanced glaucoma cases

If you notice any of these symptoms in a senior loved one, it’s essential to seek medical advice immediately. An eye exam can confirm glaucoma and determine the best course of treatment.

Impact of Glaucoma on Senior Eye Health

Glaucoma can have a significant impact on senior eye health. It can cause partial or complete vision loss, which can lead to a range of issues, from difficulty with daily tasks like reading and writing to an increased risk of falls due to impaired balance. If glaucoma is left untreated, it can eventually lead to complete blindness or even death in some cases.

In addition to vision loss, glaucoma can also impact senior health in other ways. It can cause depression due to the feeling of loss of independence and a decrease in social activities. Glaucoma can also affect cognitive function due to vision loss, leading to confusion and difficulty with decision-making.

To prevent glaucoma or detect it early, seniors should have regular eye exams and glaucoma screenings. If glaucoma is found early on, it can be managed with a combination of medications, lifestyle changes, and surgery, depending on the severity of the case.

If you or a loved one are grappling with glaucoma, it’s important to remember that the symptoms can be managed, and there is hope for maintaining independence. With the right treatments and support in place, glaucoma can be effectively managed so that seniors can continue to live full and productive lives.

Glaucoma Risk Factors in Seniors

Although glaucoma can affect anyone, certain risk factors make it more likely for seniors to develop it. These include the following:

  • Age
  • Family History
  • Diabetes
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Ethnicity – African-Americans and Hispanics are statistically more likely to develop glaucoma.

Even those who do not meet these requirements should still be proactive in monitoring their eye health and having regular glaucoma screenings. Early detection is key to managing glaucoma, so it’s necessary to take preventative measures to ensure that any eye condition doesn’t go unnoticed.

Glaucoma Treatment Options for Seniors

Once glaucoma is detected, there is a range of treatment options available. These can include medications like eye drops and oral medications to reduce pressure in the eyes, laser treatments, and in some instances, surgery. The best course of action for treatment will vary depending on the severity of glaucoma.

In some cases, lifestyle adjustments may be needed in order to manage glaucoma. These include quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, wearing sunglasses to protect the eyes from UV radiation, and avoiding activities that may increase eye pressure, like heavy lifting or straining. Additionally, seniors should be proactive about monitoring glaucoma with regular exams and screenings.

For Senior Care facilities and home care specialists, Glaucoma Awareness Month provides an opportunity to educate seniors on glaucoma prevention, management, and treatment. Here are some things Senior Care providers can do:

  • Educate seniors and their family members about glaucoma signs and symptoms.
  • Encourage seniors to have regular eye exams and glaucoma screenings.
  • Educate seniors about glaucoma treatments and lifestyle adjustments that may be needed.
  • Make sure glaucoma patients are aware of new treatments or advancements in glaucoma management.

Care Managers: An Extra Set of Eyes

Glaucoma Awareness Month is an important reminder to stay informed of glaucoma risk factors and treatments available. It’s especially vital for seniors, as glaucoma can significantly impact their overall health – not just their eye health! Early detection is key to managing glaucoma effectively, so it’s vital to be proactive and have regular glaucoma screenings. With the proper knowledge and intervention, glaucoma can be managed, allowing seniors to enjoy a full life with the activities and hobbies that they love.

Reflections Management and Care offers a variety of senior care management services for those who need extra guidance managing glaucoma. Our team of experienced senior care managers can help seniors manage their health conditions while working alongside their primary healthcare provider to ensure that all of their needs are met. We work with your loved ones’ needs to coordinate appointments with specialists and to provide medication compliance and additional support. If your senior loved one is struggling to keep up with their health and would benefit from additional care while maintaining their independence,  contact us today to determine if Reflections Management and Care is the right fit for your family’s needs.

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