Play an active role in the care of your eyes. Ask questions and obtain the necessary information to take care of yourself and your family.
Glaucoma is a group of diseases that can damage the eye’s optic nerve and result in vision loss and blindness. It is one of the main causes of blindness in the United States. However, with early treatment, you can often protect your eyes against serious vision loss. Therefore it is very important that it be diagnosed.
What can I do to protect my vision?
If you are being treated for glaucoma, be sure to take your glaucoma medicine every day. See your eye care professional regularly.
You can also help protect the vision of family members and friends who may be at higher risk for glaucoma: African Americans over age 40; everyone over age 60, especially Mexican Americans; and people with a family history of the disease. Encourage them to have a comprehensive dilated eye exam every one to two years. Remember that lowering eye pressure in the early stages of glaucoma slows progression of the disease and helps save vision.
Medicare covers an annual comprehensive dilated eye exam for some people at higher risk for glaucoma. These people include those with diabetes, those with a family history of glaucoma, African Americans aged 50 and older, and Hispanics/Latinos aged 65 and older.
What should I ask my eye care professional?
You can protect yourself against vision loss by working in partnership with your eye care professional. Ask questions and get the information you need to take care of yourself and your family.
What are some questions to ask?
About my eye disease or disorder…
- What is my diagnosis?
- What caused my condition?
- Can my condition be treated?
- How will this condition affect my vision now and in the future?
- Should I watch for any particular symptoms and notify you if they occur?
- Should I make any lifestyle changes?
About my treatment…
- What is the treatment for my condition?
- When will the treatment start and how long will it last?
- What are the benefits of this treatment and how successful is it?
- What are the risks and side effects associated with this treatment?
- Are there foods, drugs, or activities I should avoid while I’m on this treatment?
- If my treatment includes taking medicine, what should I do if I miss a dose?
- Are other treatments available?
About my tests…
- What kinds of tests will I have?
- What can I expect to find out from these tests?
- When will I know the results?
- Do I have to do anything special to prepare for any of the tests?
- Do these tests have any side effects or risks?
- Will I need more tests later?
- If you don’t understand your eye care professional’s responses, ask questions until you do understand.
- Take notes or get a friend or family member to take notes for you, or bring a tape recorder to help you remember the discussion.
- Ask your eye care professional to write down his or her instructions to you.
- Ask your eye care professional for printed material about your condition.
- If you still have trouble understanding your eye care professional’s answers, ask where you can go for more information.
- Other members of your health care team, such as nurses and pharmacists, can be good sources of information. Talk to them, too.
Today, patients take an active role in their health care. Be an active patient about your eye care.
How should I use my glaucoma eyedrops?
If eyedrops have been prescribed for treating your glaucoma, you need to use them properly and as instructed by your eye care professional. Proper use of your glaucoma medication can help maximize the medicine’s effectiveness and reduce your risk of side effects.
To properly apply your eyedrops, follow these steps:
- Wash your hands.
- Hold the bottle upside down.
- Tilt your head back.
- Hold the bottle in one hand and place it as close as possible to the eye.
- With the other hand, pull down your lower eyelid. This forms a pocket.
- Place one drop into the lower eyelid pocket. If you are using more than one eyedrop, be sure to wait at least five minutes before applying the second eyedrop.
- Close your eye OR press the lower lid lightly with your finger for at least one minute. Either of these steps keeps the drops in the eye and helps prevent the drops from draining into the tear duct, which can increase your risk of side effects.