Caregiving for a Parent with Glaucoma

If you have an aging parent who has glaucoma, you may be ready to step into a new role as a caregiver. Glaucoma can present many challenges as the disease advances, such as limited peripheral vision and difficulty seeing in low light. It is often difficult to know what type of assistance your parent needs, especially if he or she wants to remain as independent as possible.

Here are some tips to help you be an effective caregiver to a parent or loved one who has glaucoma:

  • Schedule regular eye exams. Glaucoma is nicknamed the “sneak thief of sight” because it has no warning signs in the early stages. In fact, glaucoma can cause your parent can lose up to 40 percent of their vision without even knowing it. Staying current with comprehensive eye exams will help prevent glaucoma-related vision loss and help your parent maintain a higher quality of life. Make sure that, in your caregiving, you do not neglect your own eye health. You can even schedule your comprehensive eye exam on the same day as your parent’s appointment.
  • Help create healthy meal plans. Studies suggest that a diet that is rich in antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin can help lower the risk of eye damage. Fruits and vegetables that have orange and yellow skins are high in lutein and zeaxanthin, including corn, carrots, squash, and citrus fruits. Leafy green vegetables like kale and collard greens are good sources as well.
  • Improve indoor lighting. Poor lighting conditions can cause temporary eye strain and lead to headaches. More importantly, low light increases the risk for falls, injury and hip fractures. You can help your parent stay safe by adding more light sources in the home and using higher wattage light bulbs.
  • Help administer eye drops and medication. Medicated eye drops are one of the most common glaucoma treatments to help lower eye pressure, but eye drops are often not administered properly. Insufficient medication can cause spikes in eye pressure that can lead to optic nerve damage and vision loss.

There is no cure for glaucoma, but you have a unique ability as a caregiver to help preserve your parent’s vision and delay vision loss. By taking some of these simple steps, you can significantly impact your parent’s eye health (Source: Liv Home).