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  • Cameron Oglesby

Many seniors have glaucoma and don't know it

More than 3 million Americans do, and 75% of them are seniors. It's one of the leading causes of blindness in people over 60, but only about half of them are aware they even have it.

"Late in the disease, people may notice they're tripping over the curb, or walking into things they didn't see. It really is only in very advanced disease that people notice anything wrong,"

says Joel S. Schuman, director, MD, director of the Glaucoma Service at Willis Eye Hospital in Philadelphia.

Glaucoma is caused by increased pressure in the eye, which damages the optic nerve that transits information from the eye to the brain. So while many people assume they're getting clumsier with age, they often have a condition that can be slowed with the right treatment, ranging from eyedrops to laser surgery.

The most common form is Open-Angle Glaucoma, which accounts for about 90% of the cases. It happens when the eye's drainage system gets clogged over time and slowly degenerates peripheral vision. The best way to deal with its effects, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, is with a full annual eye exam from age 55 on. This includes a Tonometry Test to measure eye pressure, a Visual Field Exam to measure the full field of vision, Visual Acuity and Dilated Eye Exams.

There are many little things that, if treated in time, could preserve a senior's independence. But many caregiving services don't check for them. We do. First with our through three-part needs assessment that covers both a potential client's and the family's physical, mental, and

psychosocial needs and their preferences as well. Then, with our monthly nurse visits, which keep a special eye out for any changes over time.

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