What is glaucoma?
It is the leading cause of blindness. In the US, 9%-11% of all cases of blindness are caused by glaucoma. An estimated 3 million Americans have glaucoma, but only half of those know it. It is a disease that causes damage to the optic nerve due to high pressure in the eye. There is no cure for glaucoma, but if caught early, it is possible to stop further vision loss. There may be no symptoms, such as pain or pressure in the eye, to warn you that you have glaucoma. It may begin with loss of peripheral vision or small blind spots in the field of vision. The fluid in your eye is constantly being cycled and is regulated to maintain the balance between the fluid being produced and the fluid filtered out. If this becomes unbalanced, it changes the pressure in your eye and can damage your optic nerve. Because of the lack of symptoms, it is important to have regular eye exams. The intraocular pressure check and visual field tests can alert you to high pressure in your eye. Early glaucoma treatment can avoid any damage to the optic nerve and vision.
If you or a loved one suffers from glaucoma, it is possible to slow the progression of the disease by combining medical treatment with supplements and lifestyle changes. Here are a few suggestions:
Eat fresh vegetables every day, make your meals as colorful as possible.
Take a good vitamin/mineral supplement.
Have regular appointments with your doctor.
Living with low vision or blindness:
Sometimes, people with vision loss find it hard to ask for help, for fear of being a nuisance. Tasks that once required no thought, such as hanging a picture, now require the help of a friend or caregiver. When offering to help, you should be specific. Instead of, “Give me a call if you need anything.” say something like, “I'm going shopping, would you like to come along?”
You can also provide help in their home by reducing clutter and removing throw rugs, increasing lighting (halogen bulbs are best for those with low vision), use lampshades and sheer curtains to reduce glare, purchase address stickers for any forms they may need to fill out, encourage them to use voice memos instead of written shopping lists, increase the contrast between items such as the stove and pots or table/counter and dishes, use wide tape that contrasts with the carpet/wall color to outline stairs and electrical outlets, use large print labels for pantry items and keep them organized – putting them back in the same place each time they are used.
Be My Eyes is a great app for those who need assistance with small things like checking a food label at a grocery store or the expiration date on the milk in their fridge. Click on the link for more information:
If you would like assistance while you are dealing with the effects of glaucoma, contact us at ElderCaring. We would love to connect you with a caregiver to help ease the stress of meal planning/preparation and doctor appointments, and provide you with many other services.