What Am I Dealing With?
Glaucoma is a disease resulting from too much pressure inside the eye. This tension damages the optic nerve responsible for sending information from the eye to the brain. Optic nerve cells can die without treatment, leading to incurable blindness. If diagnosed with glaucoma, follow these steps for the best chance at keeping sight.
Change things up
For anyone diagnosed with glaucoma, healthy decisions can reduce the risk of losing vision. Eating healthy foods and getting regular exercise are great for the entire body, not just the eyes. Cutting back on smoking and caffeine can also play a role in keeping intraocular pressure down. When out and about or sleeping, keep the head elevated to prevent blood from rushing to the area.
Let loved ones know
The exact causes of glaucoma are still a mystery to scientists, but genetics do play a factor. Family members may be at risk as well. These individuals should schedule an eye exam as soon as possible to look for signs of the disease.
What’s up, doc?
If news about glaucoma came from a different type of physician, find a reputable eye doctor as soon as possible. Known as an ophthalmologist, this person can explain the condition and set up a treatment plan. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about glaucoma and all options available to prevent vision loss.
Know what you’re up against
Glaucoma typically comes in two forms, open-angle or angle-closure. Both damage the optic nerve, but angle-closure glaucoma comes on fast with intense pain and discomfort. Open-angle glaucoma occurs much more slowly, rarely having symptoms until damage is done.
Having a healthcare specialist explain the severity of glaucoma in one or both eyes can help with risk assessment. Glaucoma caught early on has a higher likelihood of being controlled than individuals in later stages. The physician will rely on this information when considering treatment options. Severe cases are likely to have more rigorous treatments from the get-go.
Get your head in the game
With data in hand, the ophthalmologist will create a personalized game plan to stop glaucoma from getting any worse. Proscribed treatments typically start with frequent monitoring and eye drops. These drops help keep eye pressure at a safe level. Depending on the severity, a surgical procedure to reduce tension may also be an option.
Do as you’re told
Whatever the doctor recommends, following the treatment plan is of the utmost importance. Failing to use drops as directed or missing a scheduled office visit can have severe consequences. Glaucoma can worsen quickly, and any damage caused is irreversible.
The odds are in your favor
Glaucoma is uncurable at this point, and many patients will battle the disease from diagnosis until end of life. Even in best-case scenarios, roughly 10% of people still go blind from glaucoma. There’s no magic ball to predict the future, but a doctor’s treatment plan offers the best chance at preserving vision.