Living With Glaucoma

A good working relationship with your eye doctor is the key to effective glaucoma care. Read our overview below, and browse our Lifestyle Tips page for articles about living with glaucoma, as well as our Personal Stories articles and Personal Stories videos.

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As a patient living with glaucoma, going to see your eye doctor can be less stressful, and you might have concerns about your future. By learning more about your condition, asking questions, and being an advocate for your own health care, you can help yourself and others.

How often should I see my eye doctor?

As a newly diagnosed person with glaucoma, you may need to have your eye pressure checked every week or month until it is under control. Even when your eye pressure is at a safe level, you may need to see your doctor several times a year for checkups.

It is important that your doctor listens and responds to your concerns and questions, is willing to explain your treatment options, and is available for calls and checkups. If you do not feel confident and comfortable with your doctor, remember, you always have the right to seek a second opinion.

A good working relationship with your eye doctor is the key to effective glaucoma care.

Will a diagnosis of glaucoma limit my life?

We are limited only by what we think we can or cannot do. You can continue with what you were doing before glaucoma was diagnosed. You can make new plans and start new ventures. And you can trust the eye care community to keep looking for better treatment methods for glaucoma. Take good care of yourself and your eyes, and get on with enjoying your life.

Try to schedule time for taking medication around daily routines such as waking, mealtimes, and bedtime. In this way, your medications will become a natural part of your day.

In addition to taking care of your physical health, it’s equally important to pay attention to the other side of glaucoma—the emotional and psychological aspects of having this disease.

Be sure to share your feelings. Especially in the beginning, it can be helpful to talk about your fears. Confide in your spouse, a relative, a close friend, or a member of the clergy. You may also want to talk with other people who have glaucoma. Sharing ideas and feelings about living with a chronic health condition can be useful and comforting.

Some daily activities such as driving or playing certain sports may become more challenging. Loss of contrast sensitivity, problems with glare, and light sensitivity are some of the possible effects of glaucoma that may interfere with your activities.

The key issue is to trust your judgment. If you are having trouble seeing at night, you may want to consider not driving at night. Stay safe by adjusting your schedule so that you do most of your travel during the day.

Sunglasses or tinted lenses can help with glare and contrast. Yellow, amber, and brown are the best tints to block out glare from fluorescent lights. On a bright day, try using brown lenses for your glasses. For overcast days or at night, try using the lighter tints of yellow and amber.

Experiment to see what works best for you under different circumstances.

Your Lifestyle Counts

  • Avoid rubbing your eyes, even though some glaucoma medications might make them feel itchy or blurry.
  • If you’ve had eye surgery, it’s a good idea to wear goggles when swimming and protective glasses when doing yard work or when playing contact sports.
  • Take care of the rest of your body. Keeping in good general health is just as important as taking care of your eyes.
  • Eat healthy foods, get enough exercise, don’t smoke, avoid ingesting too much caffeine, and stay at a healthy weight. Check with your doctor before you start any strenuous exercise program.
  • Reduce stress in your life and make time for relaxation.

What can I do to help others?

As a glaucoma patient, you have the opportunity to teach your friends and relatives about this disease. Many people are unaware of the importance of eye checkups and do not know that individuals with glaucoma may have no symptoms. You can help protect their eye health by encouraging them to have their eye pressure and optic nerves checked regularly.

Low Vision

Some people with glaucoma have “low vision.” Low vision means there may be problems doing daily, routine things even if using glasses or contact lenses. With glaucoma, this can include loss of contrast sensitivity (the ability to see shades of the same color), problems with glare, light sensitivity, and reduced visual acuity (the ability to see fine details). A variety of products and resources are available to help people who have low vision. Examples include magnifiers, colored lenses, and computer text enlargers. If you have low vision concerns, help is available. Discuss your concerns with your doctor.