Millions of elderly people suffer from glaucoma every year. Many of them are not diagnosed as early as they should have been. This degenerative health condition, which causes impaired vision and can lead to blindness, cannot be cured. Moreover, there is no way to recover the loss of vision a patient experiences as a result of the disease. That said, early diagnosis is essential for minimizing the effects of glaucoma and keeping your loved one’s vision healthy.
What To Do If Your Loved One is Suffering from Glaucoma
The sooner the problem is addressed and identified, the quicker treatment options can be implemented to stop the disease from causing more harm. Though glaucoma in the elderly is common and can be debilitating if ignored, there are plenty of effective treatment options available. Just because your loved one has glaucoma does not mean they are destined for blindness.
Glaucoma is often regarded as a silent affliction, in that it rarely causes pain or occurs immediately. It is a progressive health disease that leads to increasingly impaired vision over time, which is why so many people are diagnosed too late. If your loved is having a more difficult time seeing clearly than normal, or if they complain about seeing halos around lights, be sure to contact an eye doctor immediately. Remember, early detection is vital!
Treatment of Glaucoma in the Elderly
Depending upon how early glaucoma is detected, there are a variety of ways that it can be treated. Here are some of the most common forms of treatment of glaucoma in the elderly.
- Medicine – When detected early, the effects of glaucoma in elderly patients can be significantly reduced with the application of prescription eye drops or other medicines. They can lower eye pressure which decreases fluid retention and/or make the eyes produce less fluid altogether, both of which are necessary for keeping the retina and optic nerve intact. It is this pressure that causes impaired vision. After thoroughly examining your loved one’s eye condition, their doctor will recommend an appropriate treatment plan. Glaucoma medicines typically do not have any side effects, but let the doctor know if headaches or eye irritation occur.
- Laser Trabeculoplasty – When medicine alone is not enough to combat glaucoma, and in particular adequately drain eye fluid, most doctors will recommend laser treatment to aid in its removal. This procedure works to enhance the fluid-draining properties in the patient’s eyes and it can be quite effective when combined with other treatments. The process entails flashing a beam of light onto the lens, which reflects into the surrounding meshwork. This essentially stretches the drainage holes, allowing for greater fluid dispersal.
- Conventional Surgery – If the fluid is still not draining as well as it should, the doctor may advise surgical intervention to create new holes in the meshwork. After numbing the injection site, the surgeon will remove a small piece of tissue to create a new drainage hole. Given that it is 75% effective in most cases at relieving fluid pressure, glaucoma surgery on the elderly is widely considered one of the best treatment methods.
Glaucoma is a serious condition. If detected early, however, the chances of keeping it from causing further eye damage are high. Be mindful of your loved one’s health and contact their doctor if you suspect they have the disease.
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