Glaucoma is a common condition for older adults. This condition develops when the optic nerve is damaged, which leads to the progressive loss of vision. For seniors in independent living communities, recognizing the signs and symptoms of glaucoma can be easier than for those living alone. Below are some tips on how to recognize the signs of glaucoma early so older adults can get treatment as soon as possible.
Causes of Glaucoma
A person’s eye is filled with a fluid called aqueous humor. This fluid is being produced consistently while the eye continually drains it back into a person’s bloodstream to maintain eye pressure. When this fluid is blocked from draining, pressure in the eye builds up, which can result in glaucoma.
While many types of glaucoma are genetic, scientists are otherwise unsure what causes most types. Some uncommon causes include injury to the eye, eye infections, inflammatory eye disease, some medications, and blood vessels in the eye becoming blocked.
Glaucoma Risk Factors
There are several risk factors for which individuals in assisted living communities can keep watch. These factors first include being over the age of 60. Other indicators could be family medical history, heritage, medical conditions like high blood pressure and heart disease, thin corneas, history of eye injury, and long-term steroid use.
There are several symptoms that should not be ignored, especially in individuals with these risk factors. These symptoms are explained in greater detail below.
While looking at lights can make the average person’s vision act funny for a few minutes, it is not common for people to see halos around lights. A light halo looks like a bright circle that surrounds a source of light, similar to headlights. Experiencing this symptom means the person is developing an eye disorder that may be very serious.
The cause of this issue could be as serious as glaucoma or cataracts, but it could be as minor as a side effect from LASIK or wearing certain eye glasses. It is best to get this symptom checked out by a doctor right away.
Partial Loss of Vision
Losing vision is never a minor symptom. Partial loss of vision usually means that one eye has either a blind spot or has lost visibility completely. Older adults in memory care centers should get this symptom checked out as soon as possible, as it could be a sign of glaucoma.
It is important to note that glaucoma causes progressive vision loss, not sudden vision loss. Sudden blindness in one eye usually indicates a medical emergency. If the cause of this is glaucoma, then the window of time to get treatment to prevent permanent blindness is very small.
A tell-tale sign of glaucoma is cloudy-looking eyes. The cornea of the eye has a thin sheet of cells on the interior that facilitate the flow of fluid out of the cornea in order to keep it clear. If pressure is rising too high, the fluid is pushed out into the cornea, which makes it look cloudy. Cloudy eyes are an easy symptom to spot, but it is important to get them checked immediately. Cloudy eyes can also be caused by cataracts, so it is crucial to have a doctor determine the cause right away.
People who develop glaucoma often have a high sensitivity to light, especially if they are younger. Generally this is because of the afore-mentioned cloudy eyes, which is already an uncomfortable experience. When the cornea is filled with fluid, light bounces off of it in an irregular manner and causes a significant glare. This is not in itself a harmful thing, but it is a symptom that should not be ignored.
Sudden Severe Eye Pain
Severe eye pain with a sudden onset is a big red flag. This requires emergency treatment and the older adult experiencing this should get to the doctor as soon as possible. This type of pain is often unbearable, so it will not be an easy thing to miss. These attacks usually cause other symptoms like eye redness, vomiting, and nausea.
Glaucoma Can Be Managed if Caught Early
Since glaucoma is a progressive disease, it can be managed if it is caught early enough. Recognizing the signs and symptoms above and getting treatment right away makes a big difference in older adults preserving their vision. Be sure to watch for these and don’t ignore them for any reason.
Orchard Park of Permian Basin is a premier senior community that offers state-of-the-art care for older adults. They pride themselves on offering the gold standard for senior living, so residents are always comfortable.