Surprising Early Signs of Glaucoma
As people age, they start experiencing various conditions their loved ones should be aware of. One of these conditions is glaucoma, which is a non-curable and irreversible condition that affects the eyes. The condition affects the sight of the victim and can lead to blindness. The onset of symptoms also affects the people around the victim, especially if they have no prior experience with the condition and are unaware of the early signs of glaucoma.
What is Glaucoma?
In a normal eye, light rays enter via the cornea, pupil, and the lens. The light is then focused on the retina. The retina then converts the light rays into impulses that are then transferred through the optic nerve to the brain to be recognized as images.
Glaucoma in the elderly is a disease that affects the optic nerve. This means that the process of transferring the images to the brain is interfered with.
Damage to the optic nerve fibers leads to the development of blind spots that might go unnoticed until the optic nerve is significantly damaged. However, as the nerve is being progressively damaged, there are some signs that will appear.
The Anatomy of Glaucoma
There is a clear liquid in your eye that circulates in the space that is in front of your eye. The eye has to maintain a healthy level of pressure within the eye. This pressure is maintained by the production and drainage of the fluid in equal measure.
When glaucoma develops, the liquid doesn’t flow through the drainage system correctly. The result is the accumulation of the in the eye. This increases the intraocular pressure (IOP) within the eye. As the pressure increases, the optic nerve is further damaged.
There are various types of glaucoma that someone can suffer from. They include open angle glaucoma, which is the most common type of this condition, and closed angle glaucoma, which is not common, but is more urgent.
Risk Factors and Causes of Glaucoma
Various factors make a person more susceptible to this condition. The risk factors include:
• Incidences of high eye pressure.
• A family history of glaucoma.
• Age of 60 years or more.
• A thin cornea.
• Severe nearsightedness.
• An injury to the eye or surgery.
• High blood pressure.
• Prolonged use of steroids.
Various causes are linked to glaucoma. These include:
• Inadequate blood flow – this can be because of eye injury or a congenital condition. Additionally, diabetes can also cause a problem with blood flow to the eye.
• Structural eye defects – various structural defects of the eye can lead to glaucoma. An example of a structural defect is a narrow angle between the cornea and the iris. Such a defect can result in problem with drainage of fluid from the eye. This will increase the IOP.
• Medical conditions and injuries – a previous medical condition or an injury to the eye can lead to glaucoma. The condition will result due to damage to the eye that interferes with proper flow of fluid. Over time, it leads to optic nerve damage.
• Steroids – there are some steroids that are applied topically to the eye.
Prolonged use of these steroids increases the risk of developing glaucoma.
The outcome of these risk factors and causes is glaucoma, a condition that is irreversible.
Diagnosis of Glaucoma
An ophthalmologist who has the necessary tools and equipment diagnoses glaucoma. The expert will diagnose the condition through various ways that include:
This is also called the eye pressure test. The ophthalmologist will measure the level of the IOP to determine whether it is normal or not. IOP is measured in terms of millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). The normal IOP is 12-22 mm Hg. Anything greater than 22 mm Hg is considered abnormal. This high pressure is a risk factor in the development of glaucoma.
This one allows the physician to see the back of the eye. The doctor uses a magnifying device (ophthalmoscope) and a light source.
This is a painless eye test that checks the angle where the cornea meets the iris. The test seeks to check whether the angle is open or closed.
These tests are usually supported by a positive medical history that includes a risk factor for the development of the condition.
Early Signs of Glaucoma
The early signs of glaucoma arise due to the progressive damage to the optic nerve fibers. An unfortunate fact about this condition is that it often doesn’t present symptoms or warning signs until its advanced stages. During the initial stages, peripheral vision is affected first. Other early signs of glaucoma include:
• A cloudy vision.
• Nausea and headaches due to the increased pressure.
• Sensitivity to light that becomes severe with time.
• Excessive blinking and tearing.
• Redness in the eye. This might be a sign of inflammation or injury.
• Dry eyelids.
• Swollen eyelids.
• Crustiness around the eyes.
• Rainbows around light sources such as bulbs.
• Black spots.
• Difficulty focusing on near or distant objects.
The person who is experiencing these signs is the one that will complain. You need to be keen so that you recognize the signs early enough. For instance, the person might complain of poor adaptation to the dark.
Effects of Glaucoma on Their Loved Ones
People around the senior are used to him or her being strong, with a clear vision. As the vision becomes poor, loved ones start feeling pity towards the victim. It takes some time before they accept that the victim is losing his or her sight. Additionally, loved ones have to get used to the idea of regular visits to the doctor.
Handling Seniors Suffering from Glaucoma
The elderly are not an easy group to deal with. The senior will not wish to take medication on time, and at times they wouldn’t want to take the drugs at all. As a person close to the senior, knowing that in home care specialists are sensitive to their needs and are able to take care of a senior suffering from glaucoma, can be a tremendous relief. Contact Royal Home Companion’s In-Home Care Specialists to help you and your loved one handle the condition correctly.