January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month

January 20, 2014
aging parents - eye exam

Eye examinations are crucial for catching glaucoma in its early stages.

We depend upon our eyesight for so many important things that aging parents, spouses, and others should make sure they do everything in their power to maintain their eyesight at an optimal level. As January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month, this is an opportune time to talk about glaucoma and what can be done to help prevent it.

What is glaucoma?

Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that can cause optic nerve damage. It is generally linked to abnormally high pressure inside the eye, which in turn causes optic nerve damage. Among the leading causes of blindness, some forms of glaucoma – including the most common, primary open-angle glaucoma – occur so subtly that they can go undetected unless a person undergoes specific tests.

Sometimes the cause of glaucoma is known: an eye injury, diabetes, a tumor, cataracts, etc. When the cause is known, it is often called secondary glaucoma. If the cause is unknown, it may be referred to as primary glaucoma.

Primary open-angle glaucoma

With primary open-angle glaucoma, there often are no real symptoms. A person experiences a gradual loss of vision, which may be so subtle that he or she doesn’t even notice it until it is at a fairly advanced stage.

Acute angle-closure glaucoma

Another common form of glaucoma, acute angle-closure glaucoma, does tend to have noticeable symptoms. These include eye pain, nausea,vomiting, blurred vision, red eyes, halos around lights, and sudden onset of visual disturbance.

There are other types of glaucoma such congenital glaucoma, a type of the disease that is inherited.

Prevention

Preventing the development of glaucoma is paramount for the health of aging parents and others. Because glaucoma is often unaccompanied by obvious symptoms, the best way for aging parents and others to prevent glaucoma is to have regular annual eye examinations. (If recommended by the doctor, one may need to have the exams more often than once a year.)

Other ways to help prevent glaucoma include:

  • Don’t smoke, or quit smoking.
  • Maintain a good, appropriate exercise regimen.
  • Watch your diet. Keeping weight at a reasonable level and eating good, healthy foods can help.
  • Protect your eyes. Wear sunglasses when outdoors; one should also definitely wear protective goggles when operating power tools. If you have elevated eye pressure, your doctor can prescribe eye drops that can help ward off the development of glaucoma.

We all have a vision of ourselves as healthy, happy individuals. Keeping glaucoma away can help make that vision a reality.

Resources:

Mayo Clinic: Glaucoma

Glaucoma Foundation

Glaucoma Research Foundation

Writer, Craig Butler

Craig Butler has been writing on a wide range of topics for more than fifteen years. As the National Communications Director for the Cooley's Anemia Foundation, Craig regularly writes on a range of health and medical topics. Among the many projects he has written for the Foundation is the Cooley's Anemia Storybook, a collection of original short stories for children with the blood disorder Cooley's Anemia. His freelance work has ranged from reviewing moves and CDs to creating entertainment-related stories about baldness, to creating text for comic strips. Craig looks forward to having a dialogue with you about senior care and issues of concern.

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