What does vision with glaucoma really look like?
Glaucoma is an eye condition where your optic nerve becomes damaged, usually due to pressure from fluid in the eye. If left untreated glaucoma can cause impaired vision and can ultimately lead to blindness. However, if it is detected early, treatment can help to prevent the loss of vision.
There are some factors that increase your chances of getting glaucoma, including your age, ethnicity and family history. Glaucoma is more common if you are older, of Asian, Caribbean or African descent or have a family member with the condition. Those living with other eye conditions, such as myopia and hyperopia, also have a higher risk of developing glaucoma, as do people living with diabetes.
In this article we will show you what it’s like to look through the eyes of those living with various vision impairments and compare them with someone living with glaucoma, to help raise awareness of their differences. We will also look at how certain activities can be made easier for anyone living with glaucoma and the research that is currently being done to, ultimately, find a cure for the condition.
Glaucoma research: past, present and future
Glaucoma was previously recognised as blindness in the elderly and has been acknowledged for thousands of years. It was first linked with high tension or pressure in the seventeenth century and effective surgery had even taken place before the turn of the nineteenth-century. Treatments and a cure for glaucoma have always been at the forefront of global research and, although there is no cure yet, there are now many treatments available that help to prevent loss of vision. These include daily eye drops, laser treatment and surgery which all reduce eye pressure by helping to drain fluid.
New technology has an important role in glaucoma research and future treatment. Contact lenses have been developed that can dispense medication or monitor the pressure of the eye, as a way to regulate glaucoma symptoms and provide an alternative to daily eye drops. Other innovations include prism glasses that increase the field of vision and implants that would dispense medication for glaucoma patients. Research is ongoing to find further medications, treatments and, ultimately, a cure for glaucoma.
What sort of activities do people with glaucoma find difficult?
When we spoke to NRS Golden Girl, Beatrice, last year, she told us how glaucoma had made it more difficult for her to read. However, through vision groups she acquired some helpful tips, including that it is better to read black writing on yellow paper rather than white. Reading lights and hands-free magnifying glasses are also available to make text more visible for those who are living with vision loss.
For those living with sight loss from glaucoma it can become more difficult to navigate around your home. There are helpful tips and independent living aids available to make your home safer. Two important tips are to have bright or sufficient lighting in order to make dangerous areas, such as corners of tables or steps more visible. Grab rails and rollators can help you stay safe and stable on your feet and large faced clocks, big buttoned telephones and brightly coloured kitchen aids help you to get on with daily living.
Driving can become more difficult for those who have been affected by glaucoma. Not only can it affect your ability to drive safely, but if your vision loss is severe enough you may be required to give up your license by law. The government website has a form which you can fill out if you are unsure about driving with your glaucoma.
Stylish clothing that also makes getting dressed easier
The Able Label is a clothing company founded by Katie Ellis, dedicated to making dressing easier and more comfortable for older people or those living with a disability.
Katie’s inspiration for The Able Label came from her own grandmother who was living with Parkinson’s and finding it difficult to get dressed. With previous experience in fashion, Katie was able to develop this great range of accessible clothing that is celebrated for its stylish, comfortable and discreet designs.
The Able Label team focus on designing clothes for anyone who has a physical impairment, cognitive difficulties or requires assisted dressing. For people living with visual impairments like glaucoma, Velcro fastenings are easy to feel and simply need to be pressed to secure them. They offer a range of clothing with bright coloured Velcro tabs to make them easier to see and have lime and red tape inside the arms (lime for left and red for right) to help you put clothing on the correct way around. The Able Label have filled a gap in both the fashion and health market and help to improve the independence and confidence of those living with a visual impairment caused by glaucoma.
We have featured a picture of The Able Label’s clothing being modelled to demonstrate the ways in which different eye conditions can affect your vision and include a brief explanation of the conditions below.
Glaucoma Vs Normal Vision (click to enlarge)
Glaucoma Vs Cataracts (click to enlarge)
Cataracts is when the lens in your eye becomes cloudy and causes your eyesight to become blurred or misty. Although many older people develop age-related cataracts, there are other factors that can make it more likely for you to develop them. Cataracts can be treated by surgery where your lens is replaced with an artificial one.
Glaucoma Vs Diabetic Retinopathy (click to enlarge)
Diabetic retinopathy is a more serious eye condition where the blood vessels at the back of your eye become damaged due to high blood sugar levels.
Glaucoma Vs Macular Degeneration (click to enlarge)
Macular degeneration or age-related macular degeneration is the largest cause of eye loss in the UK. Damage to the macular, a part of your retina, causes blurred or reduce vision in the centre of your eye.
Glaucoma Vs Floaters (click to enlarge)
Floaters are lines, flashes or dots that appear through your eyes. They are common and not usually serious, but they can be serious if they suddenly appear, increase in number or are causing pain and problems with your vision.
Glaucoma Vs Myopia (click to enlarge)
Myopia is the medical term for being short sighted. You can see objects clearly that are up close, but your vision is blurry when looking into the distance. It is a common condition to do with focusing and can usually be corrected with glasses and contact lenses. However, it can be severe and seriously affect your vision.
Glaucoma Vs Hyperopia (click to enlarge)
Hyperopia is also known as farsightedness. This is where objects at close range are blurred in your vision or you have trouble focusing on them, but objects far away are clear. Like myopia, this can usually be corrected with glasses.
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