Glaucoma is a serious medical condition that affects millions of Americans. Indeed, it is one of the leading causes of irreversible blindness in the United States. Alarmingly, many people who currently have glaucoma are completely unaware that they have it. While dealing with glaucoma can be challenging, there are a number of different steps that can be taken to help patients better treat the condition, protect their eyesight, and improve their overall quality of life. For qualified EEOICPA and RECA Beneficiaries who are dealing with glaucoma or a related medical condition, there may even be free home healthcare services available.
Glaucoma: The Basics
Glaucoma is a medical condition that causes damage to one’s optic nerve. Fluid in the eye does not drain properly, and pressure can slowly build up causing considerable vision damage. The optic nerve is one of the most sensitive and important parts of the human eye. Notably, scientists and medical researchers are still not entirely sure why glaucoma occurs and how it causes nerve damage.
Though, we do know that, in most cases, glaucoma develops gradually. Indeed, in some cases, it can even take decades for the condition to manifest. If left untreated, glaucoma can cause irreversible blindness. Though, for most patients, this outcome can be prevented. While that is not always true — even with effective treatment, partial vision loss may still occur — it is crucial that patients get the right medical care.
The Prevalence of Glaucoma
According to the most up-to-date data provided by the Glaucoma Research Foundation, approximately 3 million people in the United States have glaucoma. Most people who are dealing with the condition developed it as an adult, often as a senior citizen. Though, several hundred infants are born with the condition each year. Still, researchers estimate that less than one percent of people with glaucoma were born with the condition. Notably, glaucoma can be difficult to detect: a study from the Eye Disease Prevalence Research Group found that half of the people who are suffering from glaucoma do not actually know that they have the condition at all.
Early Detection is Critically Important
One of the most concerning things about glaucoma is that there may be no apparent symptoms. There are cases in which vision loss is the first actual symptom that a glaucoma sufferer recognizes. However, in many cases, there are some minor early warning signs. A person with the condition may experience additional pressure building up in their head or they may experience reduced peripheral vision. Though, you should remember these changes can be very minor, they are usually difficult to detect, and they are easy to confuse with other medical issues.
This is alarming because with glaucoma, early intervention is absolutely crucial. The sooner a person gets treatment, the more likely it is that they will be able to preserve their vision and prevent the worst effects of the condition. Anyone who is at high risk for glaucoma should be screened on a regular basis, especially if they are a senior citizen.
Who is at Risk for Developing Glaucoma?
Although glaucoma can impact anyone, there are a number of different risk factors that should not be ignored. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, you or your loved one is at a higher risk of developing glaucoma if any of the following risk factors are present:
- Prior family history of glaucoma or serious eye problems;
- African American ancestry;
- Experiencing pressure in the eyes or behind the eyes;
- Farsightedness or nearsightedness;
- Loss of peripheral vision;
- Over the age of 40; and
- High blood pressure.
These risk factors compound with each other. In other words, if you or your loved one falls into multiple high-risk categories, regular screening becomes even more important. Please remember that, in many cases, glaucoma can be treated effectively. While the condition cannot be cured, the issue can often be managed and total vision loss can be prevented in the majority of cases.
We Provide No-Cost Home Health Services to EEOICPA and RECA Beneficiaries
At United Energy Workers Healthcare, we are proud to offer superior, no-cost home healthcare services to qualified EEOICPA/RECA recipients. Our home healthcare professionals understand how confusing and complex the application and claims process can be. We are here to support you and your family and help you connect with the best available health services. To find out more about what our team can do for you, please do not hesitate to contact us today. We serve communities throughout the country.