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Everything Seniors & Their Families Should Know About Glaucoma

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide. Injury to the optic nerve results in loss of peripheral or side vision. In most cases, changes in vision aren’t noticeable until considerable damage has already occurred. To help your elderly loved one prevent or treat glaucoma, the staff at Redondo Beach Home Care Assistance discusses all the details you need to know about this serious eye disease.

Symptoms

Early diagnosis of glaucoma is critical. However, this condition rarely causes clear symptoms. Unless your loved one develops acute glaucoma with sudden onset, there are no obvious signs of pathology.

Anatomy 

Normally, eye fluid exits through a structure called the drainage angle, which is formed by the cornea and iris. Glaucoma results when this chamber is blocked. Fluid pressure inside the eyes rises to the point where the optic nerve is injured. However, the effects of glaucoma can vary a bit depending on where they develop. There are 3 main classifications of glaucoma:

  • Open-Angle – The entrance to the drainage angle is clear, but clogging occurs farther back. This type of glaucoma responds well to medication when administered early in its development. 
  • Normal-Tension – Eye pressure remains within the normal range, but the optic nerve is still harmed. If medicine successfully reduces pressure by 30 percent, the disease’s progression can be slowed.
  • Closed-Angle – Fluid is blocked at the front of the eye, preventing it from reaching the drainage angle. Eye pressure increases suddenly, causing severe pain, redness, halos around lights, and blurred vision. Nausea and vomiting may also accompany these symptoms. Angle closure is a medical emergency. If the blockage isn’t promptly cleared, blindness can result. Laser surgery and medication can restore normal fluid drainage. 

The major risk factors for the 3 different types of glaucoma include:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Family history
  • Nearsightedness
  • Prolonged use of corticosteroid medication
  • African, Asian, Japanese, Hispanic, and Mexican ethnicity

Treatment

In most cases, prescription eye drops and pills can control eye pressure. If these treatments are inadequate, surgery is another option. Laser therapy can increase fluid flow from the eye, and an operation can also be performed to create a new drainage path.

Prevention

There are a few things your loved one can do to prevent glaucoma:

  • Maintain stable insulin levels by avoiding foods that quickly hike blood sugar, which are known as high glycemic foods. When insulin spikes, eye pressure increases. The primary substances to avoid are white bread, refined pasta, sugary breakfast cereals, cookies, pastries, pie, cake, sugar-sweetened drinks, and high-fructose corn syrup.
  • Exercise regularly to keep blood sugar steady. A Redondo Beach home caregiver can help your loved one maintain a daily exercise routine.
  • Consume foods high in bioflavonoids, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which include berries, broccoli, corn, kale, pumpkin, spinach, and squash.

To learn more about glaucoma and other eye diseases, reach out to the senior care experts at Home Care Assistance. Our respite and live-in caregivers can prepare healthy meals, assist with exercise, provide transportation to medical appointments, and help with many important everyday tasks. We also offer comprehensive stroke, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s care Redondo Beach, CA, families trust. For more information, call one of our friendly Care Managers at (310) 504-0506 today.