The American Academy of Ophthalmology defines glaucoma as a disease that damages the optic nerve. It is usually caused by a malfunctioning of the valve that regulates the amount of fluid in the eye. This leads to an increased buildup of fluid in the front of the eye. The extra fluid increases pressure, eventually harming the optic nerve.
Of all eye afflictions, glaucoma is one of the most concerning, particularly because 1) it often produces no early warning signs; 2) it is the leading cause of blindness for people over 60, and the second leading cause of blindness in the world; 3) there is no cure, meaning that vision loss caused by eye damage is permanent; 4) 10% of patients who receive treatment, still lose vision.
An often misunderstood disease, glaucoma tends to run in families and occur most often in seniors, though anyone can get it. In fact, the Glaucoma Research Foundation estimates that over 3 million Americans have glaucoma, but only half of them are aware of it. Those at an increased risk include people with severe nearsightedness, diabetics, and – inexplicably – African-Americans over 40.
In fact, African-Americans are 15 times more likely to become visually impaired from glaucoma than Caucasians, and are over 3 times more likely to go blind. In the over-60 population, Mexican-Americans show a significant spike in glaucoma diagnoses, as well.
Despite the rather grim statistics, physicians are encouraged that early detection and treatment can prevent severe vision loss in a large amount of patients.
There are over five types of glaucoma. The best way to prevent major damage to your favorite senior’s vision is to make sure that they receive a full vision exam every year. Tests that measure eye pressure must be performed as part of the procedure. There are some encouraging research results which suggest that Omega-3 fatty acid-rich foods, such as wild salmon, tuna or sardines, could help prevent the onset of glaucoma, so if your elderly loved one is at risk, increasing their intake of these foods couldn’t hurt.
If your elderly parent is diagnosed with glaucoma, there are various routes of treatment, including eye drops and beta-blockers. Talk to their physician and eye specialist to learn what will work best for them. Healthy vision is something we sometimes tend to take for granted. Doing your part to keep your parent’s eyesight as bright as possible will undoubtedly have lasting effects on their quality of life – and yours.
There is so much to think about when entering the later stages of life. If you are considering elder care options, we at 805Aging can help. Our professional staff specializes in assisting you to choose the right kind of care for your loved one.
We conduct regular check-ins when you are unable to do so. 805Aging also provides oversight and detailed feedback to the family to keep your loved one safe and well-cared for day or night, weekday or weekend, holiday and every day.
We have the resources. We can hold your hand. We can guide you. Your peace of mind is our main goal, and is well assured. To find out more, call us at 805-750-4755 or visit our website and sign up for our monthly newsletter: www.805Aging.com.
There is no manual on how to take care of your parents as they age. They had a baby book when you were young. You have us. -Amy