As we get older our eyes age and our vision may not be as sharp. One of the reasons that our vision declines is the lens in our eyes hardens and the eye muscles become stiff and will not adjust to fine print or focus in dim light. Aging also presents risks for us to develop serious eye diseases as well as some chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
Early diagnosis and treatment will preserve the vision that you have and help to minimize vision loss.
Presbyopia- (literally means “aging eye”) is an eye condition that usually will present around age of 40. The lens in our eyes begins to thicken and becomes more rigid. The lens is unable to change shape as easily as it once did, making it more difficult to read at close range.
Floaters- can occur at any age. They are tiny black specks that seem to float right in your line of sight. Sometimes they will take on shapes and tend to be bold. This can happen as result of an injury, fall or because the fluid in the eye is congealing (consistency of Jell-O). There is no treatment for floaters. They will usually settle down and appear to go away. Floaters are not considered a serious problem. However if you experience flashes (visual sensations of quick bursts of light or light streaks) please call your eye care professional as this could signal a detached retina.
Cataracts- occurs later in life usually around the age of 50, the eye’s lens will become cloudy. When cataracts are present, it is hard for us to focus on fine details and distinguish certain colors. Our vision becomes blurry, glare is a problem, and you may notice halos around lights at night. Risk factors include: age, smoking, diabetes and prolonged use of corticosteroids. There are many options available for surgery to remove cataracts and for replacement lens. These options should be discussed with your eye care professional.
Glaucoma- occurs when the pressure inside the eye increases and damages the optic nerve. There are no apparent symptoms until the later stage of the disease. It will usually affect your side vision (peripheral vision) not your central vision (straight ahead) and you may notice blind spots. The most common form of this disease is open-angle glaucoma which can be treated with eye drops or surgery. Lifelong medication will be needed in the management of this disease.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) – is the number one cause of vision loss in American’s 55 and older. There are two forms of macular degeneration, dry and wet. Both forms are caused by the damage to the macula, which is the small area at the center of the retina. Macular degeneration usually affects the central vision but not the side vision. Because the central vision is affected it makes it becomes difficult to read, recognize people’s faces, drive or do anything requiring fine detail.
Risk factors include: age, gender, race, smoking, obesity, poor eating habits, hereditary and sedentary lifestyle.
Dry macular degeneration– accounts for 85- 90% of the population that have macular degeneration. At this time there are no treatments for the dry form. A diet filled with green leafy vegetables and fatty fish (salmon, sardines, and tuna) as these contain Omega 3 fatty acids, is recommended. Your eye care professional may recommend vitamins and minerals.
Wet macular degeneration– accounts for 10-15% of those that have macular degeneration. This happens when the body produces blood vessels to help heal the eye; unfortunately these blood vessels are not stable and leak causing the blood to accumulate in the back of the eye. Treatments include injections to control the leaking blood vessels. With macular degeneration you may notice gray haze, blank spots in the center of faces or objects and distorted lines.
Please remember to schedule a yearly dilated eye exam.
By: MDA Admin