An Everyday Guide To Living With Glaucoma
Tips For Understanding And Managing Your Condition
Patients who have recently been diagnosed with glaucoma often ask their eye doctor how and to what extent their condition will affect their day-to-day activities. Although glaucoma isn’t a life-threatening disease, loss of vision can elicit some rightful fears for the future. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of vision loss with almost 66.8 million people affected worldwide.1 There’s no doubt lifestyle factors and other changes go hand-in-hand with low vision, and it is highly likely you’ll need to make some adjustments to your routine after receiving a diagnosis.
Everyday tasks may come as a challenge as your eye disease progresses; but it’s imperative to remember you do not have to live with glaucoma-related disability. Early detection is the best weapon against glaucoma; and current ophthalmic advancements offer treatment options which can help to manage, prevent or reduce the side effects of your condition.
Here’s some advice to help you better understand and manage your glaucoma:
Reach Out To Someone For Emotional Support
“...psychological support for individuals living with glaucoma is of the greatest value to your vision for the future.”
There’s a growing body of evidence to suggest social support offers an effective buffer against age-related vision loss.2 It’s about staying positive and reaching out to an impartial listener to mentally overcome low vision.
Often with loss of vision comes loss of confidence; and so, addressing the emotional needs of those who suffer from a vision impairment like glaucoma is the first step towards fostering happy, healthy lifestyles in spite of those setbacks. The unparalleled role of psychological support for individuals living with glaucoma is of the greatest value to your vision for the future. Don’t be afraid to confide in your loved ones, or perhaps, seek a professional counselling service to discuss the issues standing in the way of your overall health and happiness.
Vision impairments can rouse psychological stress in some patients, with factors such as loss of confidence, social withdrawal and isolation, getting around, reading, education, relationships and physical well being at the forefront of patient concerns.3,2
There’s no preparation for any loss of vision, and it’s so important to seek clarification of your glaucoma condition and any ensuing emotions you may experience after a diagnosis.
Don’t Let Glaucoma Limit Your Daily Activities
“Many patients find they are still able to enjoy activities such as cooking, keeping active and socialising, despite their glaucoma.”
Your ability to perform daily activities can be a daunting consideration if you’ve had a recent glaucoma diagnosis; but don’t allow your disease to stop you from doing the things you love. It may be that you’ll need to make changes to your everyday routine, and your visual field loss shouldn’t be used to measure your overall quality of life.
Some patients will modify their living habits considerably, seeking day-to-day help from their spouse, friends or relatives.4 However, many patients find they are still able to enjoy activities such as cooking, keeping active and socialising, despite their eye disease. Not only is exercise is essential for healthy weight maintenance and disease prevention, but it can also promote good eye health. Do, however, try to avoid physical activity which poses the risk of infection or a blow to the eye, as with contact sports.
Your ability to manage visual tasks will depend on the progression of your eye disease, and you may experience difficulty with other everyday tasks such as reading, navigating stairs and recognising friends or acquaintances outdoors.5 Safety is a priority; but don’t allow these limitations to get the better of you. You can consult with your ophthalmologist about implementing some simple adaptive skills and techniques to safely avoid obstacles and reduce your risk of injury.
Keep A Close Eye On Your Medications
“...educate yourself and your family members on your eye disease to improve outcomes.”
It’s essential you see eye-to-eye with your ophthalmologist or general practitioner when it comes to your glaucoma treatment and management. Visit your ophthalmologist for regular eye health checks (even if your eye disease is stable), so as to monitor your optic nerve and effectiveness of your eye drops and other treatments. The aim of glaucoma medication is to reduce high intraocular pressure within the eye, and full trust in your eye doctor is vital. The patient-physician relationship is key to improving outcomes for glaucoma sufferers.6
It’s a good idea to alert your eye doctor of any other conditions you may have developed, as your new treatment may interfere with your glaucoma medication. It’s important to educate yourself and your family members on your eye disease to improve outcomes. Studies have shown patients who have a greater understanding of their glaucoma are more likely to adhere to their prescribed treatment regime.6
Maintain Safe Driving Habits
“Increased scanning and adaptations to your viewing behaviour can be effective in improving your road safety skills after a diagnosis.”
One of the most frequently asked questions for those who suffer from low vision is “will I be able to drive?” This will all depend on the extent of your eye disease progression. If your optic nerve damage is somewhat advanced, driving of any kind is not recommended.
Nonetheless, many patients find they continue to possess good central vision and adequate peripheral vision; and are thus, visually able to continue driving. Increased scanning and adaptations to your viewing behaviour can be effective in improving your road safety skills after a diagnosis.1 Your eye specialist is likely to perform a visual field test to determine whether or not it’s safe for you to remain on the road. Above all, your ophthalmologist’s advice will be your primary deciding factor, so ensure you strictly follow those guidelines at all times.
Have a question?
Eye & Laser Centre ophthalmologists specialise in the treatment of many eye diseases, including glaucoma. Our centre employs the latest techniques and equipment to detect and manage glaucoma.
This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific ophthalmic advice or assistance should consult their optometrist or ophthalmologist.
Kübler, T.C., Kasneci, E., Rosenstiel, W., Heister, M., Aehling, K., Nagel, K., Schiefer, U. and Papageorgiou, E., 2015. Driving with glaucoma: task performance and gaze movements. Optometry & Vision Science, 92(11), pp. 1037-1046.
Burmedi, D., Becker, S., Heyl, V., Wahl, H.W. and Himmelsbach, I., 2002. Emotional and social consequences of age-related low vision. Visual Impairment Research, 4(1), pp. 47-71.
Hodge, S., Barr, W., Bowen, L., Leeven, M. and Knox, P., 2013. Exploring the role of an emotional support and counselling service for people with visual impairments. British Journal of Visual Impairment, 31(1), pp. 5-19.
Quaranta, L., Riva, I., Gerardi, C., Oddone, F., Floriano, I. and Konstas, A.G., 2016. Quality of life in glaucoma: a review of the literature. Advances in therapy, 33(6), pp. 959-981.
Odberg, T., Jakobsen, J.E., Hultgren, S.J. and Halseide, R., 2001. The impact of glaucoma on the quality of life of patients in Norway. Acta Ophthalmologica, 79(2), pp. 116-120.
Tsai, J.C., 2006. Medication adherence in glaucoma: approaches for optimizing patient compliance. Current opinion in ophthalmology, 17(2), pp. 190-195.