One of the most difficult and worrisome issues for an older adult can be losing one’s eye sight. With the loss of sight, especially at an older age, comes less independence, as well as a sense of isolation. That’s why it is important to understand the early warning signs of glaucoma. By doing so, you can expect better outcomes and keep vision loss to a minimum.
There are several types of glaucoma, but all of them belong to a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve. Once this damage occurs, it is irreversible. The best option is to recognize the symptoms of glaucoma as soon as possible to prevent further damage. This can be difficult as the signs are not always clear until it is too late.
Types of Glaucoma
There are two main types of glaucoma. The first is called primary open-angle glaucoma. This type of glaucoma is caused due to blocked drainage channels that don’t allow fluid to drain out of your eyes quickly enough. This leads to fluid back up in the eye which leads to a pressure increase in the eye.
The second most common type of glaucoma is called angle-closure glaucoma. This is caused by the iris bulging forward which in turn causes the drainage angle to become blocked or narrowed. This typically happens quite suddenly.
Symptoms of Glaucoma
Early glaucoma signs can be difficult to detect as a reduction in vision is not always noticeable at first. Instead, it is important to watch for other signs and to encourage your loved one to visit their optometrist to schedule an eye exam as soon as possible. If your loved one experiences symptoms such as difficulty adjusting their eyes when walking into a dark room, a change in the color of the iris area of their eyes, double vision, or watery eyes not associated with allergy season, these can be early signs that they are developing glaucoma.
Additional symptoms can include the following:
- Itching or burning eyes
- Dry eyes
- Swollen eye lids or crustiness around the eyes
- Severe light sensitivity
- Pain in the eye area
- A dark spot in the middle of the viewing area
- Seeing ghost-like images
Also, certain signs of glaucoma may indicate that you need to take your loved one to the emergency room immediately. These include sudden loss of vision or blurred vision in one eye, rainbows around light sources, and black spots or flashes of light.
According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, it is important to keep in mind that the symptoms for the two main types of glaucoma are completely different. In the angle-closure glaucoma form, it is normal to experience severe head and eye pain accompanied with vomiting or nausea as well as sudden vision loss. In the case of open-angle glaucoma, there are few early warning signs, so it is important for you, as the family caregiver, to watch for the symptoms listed above.
When it comes to having and coping with glaucoma, early detection is what is most important. As your loved one ages, be sure that they have regular vision checkups with their optometrist. This is the best line of defense in detecting and treating glaucoma before it is too late and vision loss has occurred.
Have you or a loved one experienced these early symptoms of glaucoma?