As we age even healthy eyes will experience changes that need to be addressed. Those changes become more acute as a person moves into late middle age, and even the healthiest eyes become more vulnerable to a variety of eye diseases. The key for healthy aging eyes is to anticipate these changes and take preventative measures to mitigate eye disease. The eye doctors at Nevada Eye Physicians work closely with our patients as they age to help them adjust to their changing eyes and early detect any age related eye diseases.
The Vision Risks that Affect Older People
One of the most common problems associated with aging eyes is presbyopia. This is the loss of the eye’s ability to change its focus to see objects that are near. This condition will occur in everyone as they get older. It’s not the same as farsightedness but there are similarities as to its effect on your ability to see clearly. You will recognize some of the symptoms if you have to hold reading material at arm’s length or you experience headaches doing up-close work. A thorough eye exam will give a proper diagnosis. There are several common eye diseases that affect many people over the age of sixty.
Macular Degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss and blindness in aging Americans. It is a deterioration or breakdown of the eye's macula. The macula is a small area in the retina — the light-sensitive tissue lining the back of the eye. With macular degeneration, you may have symptoms such as blurriness, dark areas or distortion in your central vision, and perhaps permanent loss of your central vision. There are two types: Dry Macular Degeneration which is the more common form and can be treated through a vitamin therapy regimen, and Wet macular Degeneration which represents about ten percent of these cases and must be treated by laser therapy or small injections of medicine into the eye. Early diagnosis is important in halting its progression. One of the easiest ways to screen for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is to use an Amsler grid. View the video below:
Glaucoma is a disease that damages the eye’s optic nerve. The optic nerve is connected to the retina — a layer of light-sensitive tissue lining the back of the eye. To maintain a constant healthy eye pressure, your eye continually produces a small amount of fluid while an equal amount of this fluid flows out of your eye. If you have glaucoma, the fluid does not flow out of the eye properly. Fluid pressure in the eye builds up and, over time, causes damage to the optic nerve fibers. Glaucoma can cause a permanent loss of vision if it is left untreated. When glaucoma develops, usually you don’t have any early symptoms and the disease progresses slowly. Fortunately, early detection and treatment with eye drops, or surgery can help preserve your vision.
Cataract is a clouding of the eye's lens. The lens must be clear in order to focus light properly onto the retina. If the lens has become cloudy, this is called a cataract. If your vision has become blurry, cloudy or dim, or things you see are not as bright or colorful as they used to be, a cataract may have developed in one or both of your eyes. Cataracts are only treatable through surgery. Since most cataracts are part of the normal aging process, they cannot be reversed. There are no medications or eye drops that will make cataracts go away—surgery is the only treatment.
Prevention A healthy lifestyle of exercise and a proper diet can help control blood pressure and the onset of type 2 diabetes. These diseases can have a significant impact on eye health. Exercise, healthy eating, and vitamin supplements can help preserve healthy eyes and stave off age related diseases. Visiting a professional eye care provider such as Nevada Eye Physicians for a comprehensive exam is the best thing that you can do to protect your vision. Remember, although your vision may initially seem fine, age-related diseases that affect your eyes can have very few symptoms to begin with, which is why examinations are vital. A dilated eye exam, for example, will dilate the pupils and allow eye doctors to examine the back of the eye. From there, your Nevada Eye & Ear surgeon can check for early signs of any problems that could possibly be occurring.