Glaucoma in senior citizens can lead to blindness, if left untreated, according to several research studies.
Glaucoma is a devastating disease that develops slowly. Without warning, it materializes and can lead to irreversible blindness if not treated immediately upon diagnosis. This disease happens when fluid builds up in the front part of the eye, thereby increasing pressure on the optic nerve and damaging it. Your optic nerve is the engine that allows you to see. It sends visual information from the eyeball to your brain.
More than 2.7 million Americans, the majority being senior citizens suffer from glaucoma. But only half this number are actually aware of it. That’s amazing
Indeed, The Glaucoma Research Foundation reports that you’re six times more likely to get glaucoma if you’re over 60. Also more vulnerable than average are those with a family history of the disease, African Americans, Hispanics, and people with diabetes.
Glaucoma is a slow acting disease with hardly any symptoms until the very end when it just explodes on you. At that point, you’ll know something is wrong because you will experience sudden blurry vision, severe eye pain, a headache, nausea and/or vomiting. You may also see rainbow-colored rings or halos around lights. Anyone with these symptoms should be checked by their eye doctor immediately.
Treatments include medication, and surgery if necessary
Medicated eye drops, used daily, are the most common way to lower pressure and control this disease.
Insofar as surgery is concerned, there are several options.
- Laser surgery. There are two main types of laser surgery that help with fluid drainage. The most common type is a laser that increases the outflow of fluid through the eye channels. The other standard treatment is a laser that makes a tiny hole in the iris to help release fluid. Both procedures can be done in the doctor’s office or at an outpatient facility.
- Traditional surgery. If eye drops and laser treatments don’t work, surgery could be the answer. A surgical opening is made in the white of the eye, which allows excess fluid to drain out of the eye and into a small reservoir under the upper eyelid. From there, it’s absorbed by tissue. Another method is to implant a device that increases the outflow of fluid.
- Micro surgery. Microsurgery is safe, faster and less invasive than traditional surgery. These procedures use microscopic-size equipment and tiny incisions, and are more suitable for patients who are in the early to moderate stage of the disease.
The best thing people can do to protect their vision is to schedule eye exams every 6-12 months.