What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is an eye disease that causes vision loss in one or both eyes. Glaucoma is caused by fluid buildup behind the eye. This puts pressure on your optic nerve and damages it. Glaucoma usually develops slowly.
What increases my risk for glaucoma?
- You are older than 60 years.
- You are an African American older than 40 years.
- You have a family member with glaucoma.
- You have a medical condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
- You had a severe eye injury.
What are the signs and symptoms of glaucoma?
- Loss of peripheral vision
- Blurry vision
- Poor night vision
- Blind spots
- Trouble focusing on objects that are close to your eyes
- Halos or rainbows around lights at night
How is glaucoma diagnosed?
Your caregiver will ask about your symptoms and examine your eyes. He will check your peripheral vision. He may check how well your eyes drain fluid. You may need any of the following tests:
- Tonometry: This test measures your eye pressure. Your eyes are numbed with eyedrops and your caregiver touches your eyes with an instrument. Or, a puff of air is blown into your eyes and pressure is measured with a light.
- Ophthalmoscope: This instrument is used to check for optic nerve damage. Your caregiver will turn off the lights in the room and shine a bright light in your eyes. You may need eyedrops to dilate your pupils. This gives your caregiver a better view of the inside of your eye.
How is glaucoma treated?
Early treatment may decrease your chance of eye damage and loss of vision.
- Eye pressure medicines: These help decrease eye pressure. They may also decrease the amount of fluid your eyes make or help your eyes drain better. These medicines may be eyedrops or pills.
- Laser surgery: This is usually done if medicines cannot control your glaucoma. Your caregiver uses a laser to open your eye drainage system. He may also create a new opening for eye fluid to drain.
What are the risks of glaucoma?
You can become blind if your optic nerve is severely damaged. Without treatment, you will lose some or all of your vision.
How can I help prevent more eye damage?
- Do not wear tight clothing around your neck or chest.
- Try not to strain when you have a bowel movement.
- Do not push or lift anything heavier than 5 pounds.
- Avoid heavy exercise.
- Try to avoid people who are sick. Sneezing and coughing increase eye pressure.
How can I help prevent accidents or falls if my vision is damaged?
- Remove electrical cords, loose rugs, or other items that are on the floor.
- Put bright lights in your hallways and stairways. Put a night light in the bathroom.
- Do not drive at night if you have trouble seeing in the dark.
- Wear sunglasses if bright sunlight or glare bothers your eyes.
- Turn your head side to side regularly to see what is around you.
When should I contact my caregiver?
Contact your caregiver if:
- Your symptoms get worse, even after treatment.
- Your eye medicine causes your eyes to sting or turn red.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
When should I seek immediate care?
Seek care immediately or call 911 if:
- You have red eyes and severe, throbbing eye pain.
- You have blurry vision and a severe headache.
- You have nausea and are vomiting.
You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.