An insidious eye problem
Glaucoma is like a thief in the night to your eyes. You may not know you have it until a lot of damage has already been done.
It affects the nerve in the back of your eye and can eventually cause blindness. A recent study in Sweden shows that many older people have this eye problem and don’t even know it.
What the study tells us
The research was part of a large project called the H70 study. It has been around for 50 years and focuses on the health of older people.
This time, ophthalmologists examined the eyes of 560 people aged 70. What they found was surprising. Almost 5% of these 70-year-olds have glaucoma.
Even more surprising was that half of them had no idea they had this eye problem until they took part in the study.
Lena Havstam Johansson, who led the research, thought this was really important. She said: “Half of those who were found to have glaucoma were diagnosed because they took part in the study.”
This means many people can start treating the problem now before it gets worse. Usually the treatment is simple. Even a daily dose of eye drops can help reduce intraocular pressure. This slows down the damage to the nerve.
Why people didn’t know
You may be wondering why so many people didn’t know they had glaucoma. The answer is that it is difficult to notice in the early stages. Your good eye picks up the slack for your bad eye, so you may think you see just fine.
This study shows us that many people who have just been diagnosed have normal eye pressure. So you can’t just rely on it to know whether you have glaucoma or not.
The family connection and everyday life
If someone in your family has glaucoma, be careful – you are also more likely to develop it. This study backs that up. It also shows that having glaucoma doesn’t mean your entire life takes a nosedive.
People with this eye problem were just as active and happy as those without the eye problem. They were also no more likely to smoke or drink alcohol.
But there is a catch. People with glaucoma said their daily lives were a little more difficult. It is more difficult for them to climb stairs in the evening, notice things on the sides, and recognize curbs.
This could mean foregoing going out or visiting friends and instead opting to stay home.
What that means for you
First of all, you should have your eyes examined regularly if you are older, especially if you are around 70 years old or have family members with glaucoma.
Even if you think you see well, you could spot this sneaky thief of an eye problem early on. If you catch it early, you can keep your good vision for many years.
Second, if you or someone you know is diagnosed with glaucoma, it’s not the end of the world. Life can still be good.
However, if you know you have it, you can begin treatment and take steps to keep your eyes healthy for as long as possible.
This study literally opens our eyes to the hidden problem of glaucoma in the elderly. So take care of your eye health and encourage your older relatives to do the same.
If you care about eye health, please read studies about the growing problem of diabetic eye disease in the U.S. and the results of “The Secret of Vision Loss: The Role of Fats in Eye Health.”
For more information about eye diseases, see current studies on protecting your eyes from glaucoma. The results show that this eye surgery can reduce the risk of dementia.
The research results can be found In Acta Ophthalmologica.
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