Managing Depression And Anxiety In Glaucoma Patients

Glaucoma is often referred to as the silent thief of vision as it would not signal any warning. In India, glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness. At least 12 million people in India are affected by glaucoma and nearly 1.2 million people, left blinded. The most alarming fact about glaucoma is that more than 90 percent of the cases remain undiagnosed. Which is why regular eye examinations are considered essential in order to detect the condition early, and begin the treatment before it matures. Following the diagnosis, patients are often overcome with difficult emotions; ranging from fear, anxiety to hopelessness. We shall discuss a few points for the family members and caregivers of glaucoma patients to keep in mind:

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1. Choose your words with empathy

It is crucial for the caregivers and family members to stand as beacons of wellness and positivity. The patients are already in a state of shock, and are extremely sensitive to their surroundings. Therefore, whatever is to be said will have to be carefully chosen. It obviously does not mean that you should provide them with a false sense of hope, but keep reminding them that with proper treatment and obedience to the instruction, glaucoma could be managed. This approach might help them to remain strong, and take their medications diligently, coping with the situation in an efficient manner.

2. Help them to learn more about the condition

Learning more about their condition could help them deal with the situation in a better way. You may start by discussing more with your eye doctor, or getting in touch with other patients regarding glaucoma and learn their mechanisms of coping.

3. Therapeutic counselling

When you are aware of a blinding condition, it is only natural to feel helpless, anxious, and depressed. If nothing seems to aid, it is best to seek professional help. Encourage family members suffering from glaucoma to try therapeutic counselling from a specialist. The counselling sessions are based on individual needs and address specific issues faced by individual patients.

4. Adjustment classes

If your loved one has reached an advanced stage of glaucoma, engaging in simple activities such as changing clothes, or eating meals may seem challenging. There are many associations and training centres in India that assist people with visual impairment develop necessary skills to work competitively and live independently. Such classes also impart teaching by using different tools to help them in gaining confidence, and pursuing their professional and personal goals.

There are a number of low vision tools that can help the patient improve their vision. These are:

  • Reading Prisms
  • Magnifying glasses
  • Telescopic glasses
  • Hand magnifiers
  • Lenses that can filter lamp

All these tools are stronger than regular eyeglasses. These devices are handheld and are easy to use. Non-optical aids include clocks and watches with high contrast, phones and watches with enlarged numbers, and text reading software installed on phone or computer.

5. Reach out to people:

Glaucoma patients suffering from depression tend to detach themselves from others. Reaching out to them, or simply put, affection from friends and family could help them overcome depression, visit Families need to be more inclusive, affectionate, considerate and encouraging. Encourage them to take part in social activities, adventures, and do all the things that they used to, before the diagnosis. Do not let Glaucoma consume their past self, or curb their activities.

6. Regular visits to the eye hospital

Regular visits to the eye hospital are important to check the Intraocular pressure (IOP) and monitor the extent of the nerve damage.

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