Glaucoma is One Aspect of Eye Care to Watch For: Here Are a Few More
Glaucoma is one of the more common eye conditions that affects older adults. However, there are other aspects of eye care to watch out for when in home health care in San Mateo and elsewhere. January is both National Glaucoma Awareness Month and National Eye Care Month, so this is a timely subject and a gentle reminder to get your eyes checked.
Worldwide, about 80 million people live with glaucoma, and more than three million Americans have it, says the Glaucoma Research Foundation. However, about half of those people don’t even know they have it. Glaucoma, a disease that damages the optic nerve, occurs with the buildup of fluid in the front part of your eye. That extra fluid puts pressure on your eye, which then damages the optic nerve, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
While there is no cure for glaucoma, early treatment can stop the damage and further protect your vision. You may not have symptoms at first, but over time, you may slowly lose your vision, starting with your peripheral vision. With the passing of time, you may not be able to see things off to the side any longer. If you don’t seek treatment, glaucoma may eventually cause blindness.
In addition to glaucoma, here are some more conditions to be aware of.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration, or AMD for short, is an eye disease that blurs your central vision, usually as a result of aging. As we age, the macula — the part of our eyes that is responsible for controlling sharp, straight-forward vision — gets damaged. It’s a common condition and a top cause of vision loss in older adults. While it does not cause complete blindness, it causes you to lose your central vision, which makes it harder to see faces, drive, read, or perform close-up work such as fixing things, sewing, or cooking.
In some people, AMD comes on quickly, while in others it comes on gradually. Those with early-onset AMD often don’t notice vision loss for a while, which is yet another reason to get yearly eye exams, advises the National Eye Institute.
Diabetic retinopathy, an eye condition that causes vision loss and blindness in those with diabetes, affects blood vessels in the retina. As a diabetic, getting a comprehensive dilated eye exam once a year is critical in detecting and treating diabetic retinopathy. Many people don’t even experience symptoms at first, but detecting this condition early on can safeguard your vision. It’s also important to manage your diabetes well by taking your medicine, eating a healthy diet, and staying physically active.
Caused by high blood sugar due to the condition of diabetes, this condition can damage your retina, which is the part of the eye responsible for detecting light and sending signals to your brain via the optic nerve. Diabetes damages blood vessels throughout the body, and your eye damage begins when sugar blocks the blood vessels feeding your retina, which in turn causes it to leak fluid and/or bleed. To compensate for those blocked blood vessels, your eyes grow new blood vessels that do not work as well, which is why they bleed or leak, says the National Eye Institute.
Cataracts are cloudy areas in the lens of your eye, and they get more common as you get older. More than 24 million Americans age 40 and older have cataracts, and by age 75, half of all Americans have cataracts. Not everyone notices they have a cataract right away. But over time, you will notice blurry, less colorful, or hazy vision, which can impact how well you can drive, read, or perform other daily activities. Without treatment, cataracts can result in vision loss.
Most cataracts are a result of the normal aging process, but sometimes they can be due to an eye injury or surgery for some other eye problem such as glaucoma. While you may not notice symptoms right off with mild cataracts, the following changes in vision can result as time goes on:
- Cloudy or blurry vision
- Faded or muted colors
- Inability to see well at night
- Lamps, headlights or sunlight can seem too bright
- Halos around lights
- Double vision (which may go away as the cataract gets larger)
- Change in prescription for your glasses or contact lenses
If you experience any of these symptoms, visit your eye doctor. He or she can perform an exam to see if there are any other concerning eye issues present. Risk factors for cataracts include diabetes, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, family history, eye surgery or injury, and steroid use.
Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice
Our home health care program can help you or a loved one with all aspects of daily living, including proper eye care. Contact us at 888-978-1306 to learn how we can help in San Mateo and elsewhere.