Senior Life: Glaucoma
Glaucoma is an eye condition that is the number one cause of vision loss and blindness that is irreversible in the United States. Glaucoma currently affects over three million people in the United States and the National Eye Institute predicts that by 2030 this number will increase by 58% to 4.2 million people. Because there are no early warning signs with glaucoma, 50% of patients who have it are unaware. Patients can lose up to 40% of their vision without noticing the change.
Who is affected by glaucoma?
While anyone can develop glaucoma, there are some patients who are at a greater risk. This includes those over 60 years old or those with family history of glaucoma. It is also six to eight times more common in African Americans than Caucasians.
How is glaucoma diagnosed and treated?
Glaucoma damages the optic nerve which is responsible for sending images from the eye to the brain. This damage leads to vision loss. While there is not a cure for glaucoma, early treatment with medication or surgery can often stop damage from progressing and thus protect your vision. Thus, it is crucial for glaucoma to be diagnosed early which is done through a comprehensive dilated eye exam. Treatment varies based on the type of glaucoma and other factors.
The two main types of glaucoma are primary open-angle glaucoma and angle closure glaucoma. With these conditions, intraocular pressure (IOP) increases inside the eye, therefore treatment is focused on reducing this pressure. Treatments include prescription eye drops, oral medication, surgery, laser treatment, or a combination of these. There are various eye drops that can be prescribed for glaucoma. Some are to be used once daily while others are used two or three times each day. Sometimes more than one prescription or over the counter eye drop may be prescribed or recommended to you. It is recommended that you wait at least five minutes in between using different eye drops. Some eye drops also need to be stored in the refrigerator. Make sure to discuss proper administration and storage of your eye drops with your Lewis pharmacist today. They can help answer any questions you might have about your prescriptions. Also, make sure to schedule regular eye exams to help with early diagnosis and treatment of eye conditions.
Glaucoma Awareness Month. https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/outreach-campaigns-and-resources/glaucoma-resources/glaucoma-awareness-month#:~:text=January%20is%20Glaucoma%20Awareness%20Month&text=There's%20no%20cure%20for%20glaucoma,damage%20and%20protect%20your%20vision. Accessed December 6, 2022.
Glaucoma Research Foundation. https://glaucoma.org/january-is-glaucoma-awareness-month/. Accessed December 6, 2022. Mayo Clinic. Glaucoma. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/glaucoma/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20372846. Updated September 30, 2022. Accessed December 6, 2022.