Did you know that January is Glaucoma Awareness Month? It’s estimated that approximately 3 million people in the United States suffer from this condition. While it may sound like it only affects a small portion of the population, glaucoma can have a serious impact on those it impacts personally, as well as their families. With that in mind, here are four fast facts about the disease as it relates to and affects senior citizens.
#1: Who Is Affected By Glaucoma?
Anyone can develop glaucoma but elderly people are at much greater risk than younger adults and children. The department of health identifies the following traits as a higher risk than the general population:
- African Americans over the age of 40.
- Mexican Americans over the age of 60.
- Anybody with a family history of the disease.
#2: What Are The Symptoms of Glaucoma And How Do You Detect It?
Glaucoma is actually a general term for a group of diseases that damage the optic nerve. Because the optic nerve transmits visual information to the retina (light sensitive material at the back of the eye) and the brain, damaging it causes visual degradation and potentially blindness.
Image From VisualDictionaryOnline.com
#3: What Causes Glaucoma?
Several studies have shown high pressure in the eye to be a major risk factor for Glaucoma. High blood pressure in general is another often correlated indicator. That said, some people tolerate high pressure (in the eye and/or in the blood) better than others so it is by no means a certainty that glaucoma will follow.
Why Pressure? Pressure has the potential to build up in the eye in a space behind the pupil called the anterior chamber. As part of the eye’s normal operations, fluid continuously flows through this area. If everything is working properly the fluid leaves the region through the part of the eye where the cornea and the iris meet. In the event that fluid continues to build up by draining too slowly and/or failing to drain at all, the result is a pressure build up - oftentimes damaging the optic nerve.
#4: In Home Care For Blind Individuals Or Those With Poor Vision
According to the American Foundation® for the Blind, “6.5 million Americans age 55 and older are blind or severely visually impaired. This population is expected to more than double by the year 2030, when the last generation of baby-boomers reaches age 65.”
As you might expect, we spend a lot of time working with elderly individuals many of whom suffer from poor eyesight and in some cases may even be legally blind. It goes without saying that losing one’s vision requires some serious adjustment and that those affected can benefit significantly from dedicated in home care. Typical therapy and at home aid involves things such as:
- Mobility assistance and independent living skills: specially designed devices such as long canes and/or techniques for orientation and getting around the home.
- Communication assistance: guides for writing with low-vision, using larger print, and even learning braille for reading, writing, and labeling are all effective techniques to deal with poor eyesight.
- Rehabilitation and vision therapy: doctors often prescribe optical devices and special low-vision aids to enhance one’s ability to use diminished eyesight.
Since January is Glaucoma Awareness Month, we wanted to contribute our part to raising awareness about it. But you can learn about other diseases on our blog as well, such as Alzheimers, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis. To learn more about in home care generally, please contact us to see whether Pennsylvania Agency of Nurses is a good fit for your loved ones!