Living better with glaucoma
Being diagnosed with any eye condition can be frightening, and it is natural to worry about the future. Any damage done to the optic nerve and resulting vision loss due to glaucoma is irreversible, but early diagnosis and treatment can slow or prevent its progression.
If you experience significant vision loss due to glaucoma, you are not alone. There is lots of support out there and lots of things you can do to help you manage your condition.
Talk to others with experience of glaucoma
There are lots of people you can talk to for advice and support:
- Sight loss service charities
RNIB have a telephone Helpline and a Sight Loss Counselling team, and Glaucoma UK have a telephone helpline, online forum and local support groups.
- Your GP or social worker may be able to find you a counsellor.
- Your Eye Clinic Liaison Officer (ECLO) can provide practical and emotional support.
Follow medical advice
Glaucoma gradually reduces your vision, usually starting with your peripheral (side) vision. If treated in time, some of your vision may be able to be preserved.
Make sure you follow your doctor’s instructions on treatment and medication to the letter. These treatments can be vital in preventing further sight loss.
You should also attend all of your eye appointments to make sure that your eye pressure stays stable. Your doctor will tell you how often you need to attend check ups.
Food and drink
- Too much caffeine can raise the pressure in your eye. Five or more strong cups of coffee per day risks increasing eye pressure.
- Drinking small amounts of alcohol may lower pressure in the eye, but excessive drinking can damage the optic nerve.
Maximise your remaining vision
Glaucoma gradually reduces your vision, usually starting with your peripheral (side) vision. If treated in time, some of your vision may be able to be preserved. There are lots of things you can do to make the most of your remaining vision.
- Ask your GP, optician or ophthalmologist to refer you to your local low vision clinic for an assessment, where you can access support around making the most of your sight.
- Use low vision aids like magnifiers, large-print books/magazines/newspapers/playing cards, and screen readers.
- Use brighter lighting
- Use colour to make things clearer
Access training and support to maintain your independence
- Ask your ophthalmologist if you are eligible to register as sight impaired (partially sighted) or severely sight impaired (blind). This can help you access more expert help and financial concessions.
- Speak to local social services about setting up your home so you can move around easily, and mobility training to help you go out safely.
- Being diagnosed with glaucoma does not automatically mean you are no longer able to drive a car, but you should speak to your ophthalmologist about whether you need to report your eye condition to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA). They will be able to advise you.
See how sight research can help
Researchers are working all the time to find new treatments for glaucoma, and one promising avenue of research is gene therapy and regenerative medicine. Find out more about the research we are funding in this area here.
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