Frequently Asked Questions About Glaucoma
Q. Can marijuana really treat glaucoma, and is it legal?
Studies performed in the 1970s reported that smoking marijuana could lower eye pressure. Other studies have been inconclusive. Newer reviews by the National Eye Institute and the Institute of Medicine show that there is no scientific evidence that marijuana is more effective than the drugs currently available.
Q. If I have glaucoma, can I still drive?
Most people with glaucoma can still drive -- as long as they pass the Department of Motor Vehicles' vision test. Simply put, your ability to drive will depend on how much vision has been lost. Some people with advanced glaucoma can still get their license renewed but with restrictions. Ask your doctor to discuss your condition with you to determine if driving will be a concern for you.
Q. Can I still wear contact lenses if I have glaucoma?
Whether or not you can wear contact lenses depends on which glaucoma treatment your doctor selects for you. You should be able to continue wearing them if you use eye drops. However, some drugs may need to be taken when lenses are not in your eyes. Also, some of the older medications can affect your prescription, so you may need to get new contacts at some point.
If your doctor decides that you need surgery, your ability to wear contacts may be affected. Be sure to discuss your contacts with your doctor so together the two of you can manage your vision concerns and your medication concerns.
Q. What can I do to help my parent with glaucoma?
Being diagnosed with glaucoma is scary. Many older people are dealing with several problems that come with age. They often worry that they will become a burden to the family if they lose their vision. So, first, reassure your parent that many people keep their vision with proper medication and care.
Next, help your loved one establish a routine so eye drops are applied correctly on schedule. Some eye drops must be applied several times a day. This can be especially difficult for people with arthritis, and, frankly, not an easy task for anyone to remember! You could offer to help, perhaps by swinging by the house or by calling with a reminder. If that's not possible, talk with your parent's doctor to make sure a plan is in place. Compliance with drop regimens is extremely important in glaucoma to prevent permanent vision loss.
If your parent faces surgery, do what you can to help him or her prepare, then arrange transportation to follow-up visits to the doctor.
There are many services and products available to help someone with impaired vision continue to write checks, organize their kitchen, tell time, and even play cards. Contact the Glaucoma Foundation to learn about them.
Remember, the best help you can offer is your emotional support.