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Glaucoma Caregiving Tips

Written by CircleOf Staff
January 17, 2023
Glaucoma Caregiving Tips
Table of Contents
Taking care of someone who has glaucoma is made easier with information and organization. Caregivers can help others manage their glaucoma and maintain their vision by learning glaucoma types, risk factors, signs and symptoms, and treatment options. Find caregiver tips for lifestyle changes that may slow disease progression and ways to make their home safer.

Glaucoma is a severe eye condition that affects millions of people around the world. It is characterized by increased eye pressure, which may damage the optic nerve and lead to vision loss. Caregivers are integral in helping individuals manage their glaucoma to maintain their vision and improve their surroundings for safety.

What are Glaucoma Symptoms?

There are often no early symptoms, which is why 50% of people with glaucoma don’t know they have the disease. The best bet here is to make and keep regularly scheduled appointments with the ophthalmologist.

Glaucoma is increased pressure inside the eye (called intraocular pressure or IOP), which can damage the optic nerve and lead to vision loss. The pressure can lead to some symptoms to look out for and trigger a visit to the doctor:

  • Blurred or low vision
  • Eye pain
  • Halos, eye floaters, or flashers
  • Light sensitivity
  • Sudden, severe eye pain or headaches
  • Increased falls

Glaucoma Screening

Regular screening is a good habit if you have symptoms are in a high risk category or have a family history. We have gone to Walmart's Vision Center and my parents and they liked to go shopping afterwards.

Is Glaucoma Permanent?

The Mayo Clinic reports, "The damage caused by glaucoma can't be reversed. But treatment and regular checkups can help slow or prevent vision loss, especially if the treated disease is in early stages." Treatments can slow down additional vision loss but can’t restore lost vision.

While glaucoma can cause vision loss, it does not necessarily lead to blindness. With early detection and proper treatment, disease progress can be slowed, and in some cases, future vision loss can be prevented.

Glaucoma Types

The first thing caregivers need to know about glaucoma is that there are different types of conditions. The most common type is primary open-angle glaucoma, which develops gradually and has no early symptoms. Other types of glaucoma are angle-closure and congenital glaucoma, which have different causes and require different treatments.

Risk Factors

According to the CDC, anyone can get glaucoma, but some people are at higher risk. These groups include African Americans over age 40, all people over age 60, people with a family history of glaucoma, and those with diabetes. African Americans are 6 to 8 times more likely to get glaucoma than others.

Caregivers need to understand the glaucoma risk factors because they can be related to other medical conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.

People with diabetes are two times more likely to get glaucoma than people without diabetes.

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a risk factor for developing glaucoma because it can damage blood vessels in the eye, including the optic nerve.

African American couple who wear glasses talk with their ophthalmologist about glaucoma risks and exams

Caregivers need to know the signs and symptoms of the condition, which may include gradual vision loss, blurred vision, difficulty adjusting to low light, and changes in the color of the iris.

Glaucoma Treatments

There are many treatments for glaucoma, with most focused on reducing intraocular pressure with eye drops, oral medications, laser therapy, or surgery. Caregivers must understand the ophthalmologists' options for a treatment plan to support it best.

Typical caregiver support is assisting with medication management, following treatment plans, and keeping regular checks with the ophthalmologist to monitor the condition.

Support Lifestyle Changes

Caregivers can also encourage the glaucoma patient to make lifestyle changes that may help to slow the progression.

Some lifestyle changes clinicians recommend they eat a healthy diet, regular moderate exercise (see video below), wearing eye protection, and avoiding smoking. In addition, glaucoma sufferers need to protect their eyes from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays.

Adapt Living Spaces

As with any vision loss, living spaces need to be safe to get around in and organized to make healthy choices.

  1. Install brighter lighting throughout the house, especially in the kitchen and bathroom. This will increase overall visibility and make it easier for the person with glaucoma to get around safely. Visit to find light bulbs and affordable home improvement ideas at Walmart.
  2. Use contrasting colors when decorating. This makes it easier for someone with glaucoma to distinguish between different objects, spaces, and surfaces.
  3. Remove all trip hazards. Clear floors and stairs and remove loose rugs or items that can cause the person with glaucoma to trip and fall — Declutter quickly with our partners at 1-800-GOT-JUNK.
  4. Add grab bars and other assistive devices in the bathroom or other high-risk areas to increase safety and reduce fall risk. CAREX is an excellent online store for reliable and affordable home safety equipment.

Vision loss is difficult and emotional for everyone involved. Caregivers are vital in helping individuals manage glaucoma and maintain their vision. However, we are best equipped to provide meaningful support when we get education on glaucoma types, the risk factors, signs and symptoms, and medically assisted treatment options.

CircleOf is a solution that helps family caregivers manage and organize caregiving. In the app, posts and calendars enable medication management, appointment scheduling, and task lists. So you can support them without getting burned out. Find more help in our blogs here.

You can learn more about how CircleOf can help you and those you care for. Care starts now, with you.

Helpful videos

Dr. Eyeball MD - No, we did not make this up. Dr. Zac Keenum is an ophthalmic plastic and reconstructive surgery fellow at UTSW in Dallas, TX. The USA. This YouTube video is a basic description of glaucoma and treatments in plain English with props.

Living with Glaucoma: Tips on Nutrition and Exercise from Mona Kaleem, MD, is an Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at the Wilmer Eye Institute. Glaucoma Research Foundation produces the video.

Books

Read up on Glaucoma with the book Coping with Glaucoma by Edith Marks. "Coping with Glaucoma" describes glaucoma types, explains the connections between glaucoma and other health conditions, and explains various tests and procedures used to diagnose and monitor glaucoma.

If someone with glaucoma has difficulty reading their favorite books, we recommend Audiobooks. It's different from the same experience, but 85% of what we learn is learned through listening.

Audiobooks has a HUGE variety of audiobook titles for download and can be sent as a gift. Also, check out their caregiving club, where caregivers can connect and share caregiving tips and advice.

More resources here: Mayo Clinic CDC

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