NJ Senior Care Blog

Glaucoma Awareness Month: Protect Your Eyesight


January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month. Here’s what you should know about this disease--and how to protect yourself or a senior loved one.

Glaucoma is a collection of diseases that causes gradual damage to the optic nerve. Typically, the damage occurs when fluid builds up in the front of the eye and increases the pressure inside the eye. Over time, glaucoma can lead to total blindness. Once vision is lost due to glaucoma, it cannot be reversed.

For seniors, glaucoma is especially prevalent--in fact, it’s the leading cause of blindness among people over age 60. Here’s what you should know about this devastating disease.

What Causes Glaucoma?

Glaucoma is caused by the eye’s inability to regulate fluid levels.

The eye requires fluid to maintain its shape and balance. It is vital that the eye releases this fluid as levels rise too high. Glaucoma occurs when the eye loses the ability to release excess fluid. Pressure rises inside the eye as the fluid increases and isn’t expelled. This leads to stress and damage to the optic nerve and, over time, gradual vision loss.

Glaucoma tends to be inherited. If your parent or sibling has the disease, you are more likely to eventually have it.

African Americans Are More Likely to Develop Glaucoma

African Americans are five times more likely to suffer from primary open-angle glaucoma than other ethnic populations. For those who suffer from diabetes, obesity, or hypertension, the risks are even higher. Additionally, glaucoma sets in earlier and progresses more quickly in the African American population than in other ethnic populations.

For African Americans, it’s important to schedule glaucoma checks every two years starting at age 35. If you’re concerned about developing glaucoma, visit your eye doctor to discuss your options.

What Are the Symptoms of Glaucoma?

Primary open-angle glaucoma--the most common type of glaucoma--often goes unnoticed because symptoms are rare. Once the disease has progressed, individuals may experience blind spots in peripheral vision, tunnel vision or partial blindness.

Acute angle closure glaucoma is less common, and often presents with noticeable symptoms that occur rapidly:

  • Hazy or blurred vision
  • Rainbow-colored circles around lights
  • Severe eye pain
  • Nausea
  • Sudden onset vision loss

Seniors are at higher risk of glaucoma than other age groups. It is highly important for seniors to get regular eye exams to check for signs of glaucoma. While glaucoma cannot be reversed, the symptoms can be treated. It’s important to help your senior loved ones get regular eye exams and treatment for any eye conditions. This will help them maintain their sight as they age.

If you’re interested in learning more about New Jersey senior home care in Mercer and Burlington Counties, contact Visiting Angels today.

Each Visiting Angels agency is a franchise that is independently owned and operated. The Franchisor, Living Assistance Services Inc., does not control or manage the day to day business operations of any Visiting Angels franchised agency.