Living with Glaucoma: A Patient’s Guide
Glaucoma is a slow, progressive and asymptomatic disease of the eye. Because it is painless and symptoms aren’t always obvious, vision loss is often not noticed until the disease is already advanced. It is the second-leading cause of blindness (after diabetes) for Caucasians and the leading cause of blindness for African-Americans in the United States. How is Glaucoma diagnosed?
Glaucoma is caused by irregular eye pressure. An ophthalmologist can offer a full glaucoma examination to see if you have vision-threatening glaucoma. Since elevated eye pressure isn’t something you can feel or detect on your own, it is important to visit an ophthalmology practice regularly to get evaluated, particularly if you have any risk factors that may lead to developing glaucoma.
A Guide to Living With Glaucoma.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology the only sure way to diagnose glaucoma is with a complete eye exam. A glaucoma screening that only checks eye pressure is not enough to find glaucoma.
During a glaucoma exam, your ophthalmologist will:
- measure your eye pressure
- inspect your eye’s drainage angle
- examine your optic nerve for damage
- test your peripheral (side) vision
- take a picture or computer measurement of your optic nerve
- measure the thickness of your cornea
What is the treatment for Glaucoma?
Once you are diagnosed with Glaucoma, your ophthalmologist may recommend treatment options, including:
- Medication? An ophthalmologist can generally treat glaucoma with eyedrops you can administer on your own. As long as the elevated eye pressure is detected in time, blindness from glaucoma may be prevented.
- Surgery? There are a few types of surgery used to treat Glaucoma. According to The Glaucoma Research Foundation, the most common options are either laser treatment or making a cut in the eye to reduce the intraocular pressure. The type of surgery your doctor recommends will depend on the type and severity of your glaucoma and the general health of your eye. Surgery can help lower pressure when medication is not sufficient.
How can I adjust to living with Glaucoma?
There may be changes you need to make, like remembering to administer your eye drops on a consistent schedule, and making regular appointments with your ophthalmologist.
But you can also enjoy many of the same things you did before. The Glaucoma Research Foundation, a national non-profit organization dedicated to finding a cure for glaucoma, says:
Don’t let glaucoma limit your life. You can continue with what you were doing before glaucoma was diagnosed. You can make new plans and start new ventures. Some daily activities such as driving or playing certain sports may become more challenging. Loss of contrast sensitivity, problems with glare, and light sensitivity are some of the possible effects of glaucoma that may interfere with your activities.
The key issue is to trust your judgment. If you are having trouble seeing at night, you may want to consider not driving at night. Stay safe by adjusting your schedule so that you do most of your travel during the day.
Sunglasses or tinted lenses can help with glare and contrast. Yellow, amber, and brown are the best tints to block out glare from fluorescent lights. On a bright day, try using brown lenses for your glasses. For overcast days or at night, try using the lighter tints of yellow and amber.
Experiment to see what works best for you under different circumstances.
Everyone should be screened on a regular basis for this disease to ensure it is caught as early as possible and to facilitate treatment. In addition to screening for glaucoma, a retinal screening can provide insight into your vascular health, catching signs of damage that otherwise could go undetected.
See what you’ve been missing! Trust ZIEKEREYE Ophthalmology for all your eye care needs. Call us at 518.450.1080 or use our convenient online Request an Appointment form to schedule your consultation.