Posted on Feb 28, 2020 in Senior Health
Glaucoma is highly misunderstood, and recognizing glaucoma symptoms in you or your loved ones can help to prevent the blindness associated with the disease.
We’ll walk you through these symptoms today along with outlining suitable care.
Glaucoma is the most common cause of blindness in the US. Over 3 million Americans suffer from glaucoma although only half know they are affected. Due to a rapidly aging population, the number of people in the US with glaucoma increased by 50% since 2010.
Glaucoma is caused by improper drainage of fluid from the eye. This leads to increased pressure in the eye. Over time, this pressure damages the optic nerve and nerve fibers that send information from the eye to the brain.
Sadly, this damage can lead to blindness. Indeed, glaucoma is responsible for around 10% of blindness in the US. It is, however, possible to prevent any further blindness to develop by reducing pressure build up in the eye (intraocular pressure).
There are several different forms of glaucoma:
Open-angle glaucoma accounts 90% of all cases of glaucoma making it the most common type by far.
This type of glaucoma is often referred to as the sneak thief of vision as only half of those with open-angle glaucoma are aware they have this eye disorder.
Symptoms of open-angle glaucoma develop late in the disease which is why it blindsides people.
If you ever experience any symptoms of glaucoma, see a doctor right away as this constitutes a medical emergency. Glaucoma can cause a lot of damage quickly.
The main symptom that suddenly manifests is loss of side vision (peripheral vision). Other symptoms include:
Open-angle glaucoma is treated with medication such as eye drops to help the eye drain better and reduce pressure in the eye. Unfortunately, some people suffer side-effects from these eye drops.
Also termed narrow-angle glaucoma, angle-closure glaucoma is caused by blockages in the eyes’ drainage canals. This type of glaucoma is rare in comparison to open-angle glaucoma.
Angle-closure glaucoma is serious. The pressure in the eyes must be reduced as soon as possible otherwise the pressure on the optical nerve is liable to cause damage.
Norman-tension glaucoma is damage to the optical nerve even though the pressure in the eye is normal. The cause of this type of glaucoma is unknown. Interestingly, normal-tension glaucoma is common in people of Japanese origin, it is also more likely to occur in people who have had heart disease, and people with a family history of glaucoma.
Congenital means present from birth. Congenital glaucoma is sometimes called childhood glaucoma.
This type of glaucoma is very rare and caused by an improperly developed eye drainage system.
Usually diagnosed within the first year of life, congenital glaucoma symptoms include a cloudy cornea and enlarged, light-sensitive eyes.
Congenital glaucoma is typically treated by surgery, medication or both.
How about the different types of eye drops that can be effective for treating glaucoma?
We’ll highlight the various options available right now…
Beta blockers are a medication that decreases the amount of fluid produced in the eye commonly sold under the name Timolol.
Alphagan P works by both decreasing fluid production and increasing drainage. Some people are allergic to the preservatives in these drops.
This medication comes in the form of eye drops and tablets. CAIs are sold under the names Trusopt, Azopt, Diamox, and Neptazane.
CAIs work by decreasing the production of intraocular fluid.
Sold under the name Rhopressa, this medication works in the same way as beta blockers by increasing drainage of the intraocular fluid.
Cosopt is an eye drop made of a combination of beta blockers (timolol) and CAIs.
The benefit of using a combined eye drop is that it decreases the chance of exposure to preservatives.
Key Takeaway: Consistency of treatment is central to successfully treating glaucoma. Some people fall behind with their eye drops which renders them ineffective. The result is damage to the optical nerve and blindness.
If medication alone proves ineffective, surgery can help to reduce pressure on the eye. However, the treatment is not permanent and medication will still be necessary.
Laser treatment efficiently mitigates glaucoma but it’s not permanent and patients need to take medication eventually.
Laser peripheral iridotomy (LPI) creates a small hole in the eye which eases some of the pressure of the built-up fluid. Laser surgery can be performed in the doctor’s office.
Trabeculectomy is the most common type of surgery. This involves cutting away some of the drainage tissue in the eye to encourage proper drainage which in turn reduces pressure in the eye.
Amazingly, it’s possible for a surgeon to insert tiny drainage tubes in the eye to ease drainage of eye fluid.
We hope you’re better informed about glaucoma and how seriously glaucoma symptoms should be treated.
If you’re concerned about any aspect of health as you get older, feel free to get in touch with our friendly team here at Landmark Senior Living. We have nurses on staff and can assist with minimal or more intense care. When the time is right for a shift to assisted living, we’ll be more than happy to arrange a free tour of your nearest senior living community.