Most people are under the impression that losing one’s vision is simply part of life; that as one gets older, it is an inevitability that needs to be lived with. Many eye diseases and problems begin to manifest themselves more commonly among elderly patients, it’s true, but did you know that there are preventative measures and treatment available that can help these patients keep their vision?
Here are a few of the most common eye problems in the elderly to help you protect your vision as you age.
Cataracts are the most common cause of blindness worldwide. They occur when the lens of an eye becomes cloudy. Because surgery for it is available, it is rarely the cause of permanent blindness in the United States. Cataracts progress slowly and blindness can take many years to occur.
Age Related Macular Degeneration
Age related macular degeneration or AMD is the leading cause of loss of vision for people aged 65 and over. The disease impacts the macula, the central portion of the retina providing central vision. Those afflicted by the disease will slowly lose their central vision, though peripheral vision is not affected. One of the early symptoms of AMD is blurred vision, but patients may also notice difficulty in reading, distortion when looking at straight lines, darkness in the center of their vision and reduced ability to distinguish colors. Early treatment is imperative, as this can help those affected by the disease to retain their vision for a longer period of time. Regular eye exams, even in the absence of the above symptoms, are recommended.
Glaucoma is an eye disease that results in damage to the optic nerve, which transports visual signals to the brain and is essential to seeing. An estimated 1 million Americans suffer from this condition, and it can lead to complete blindness. Increased pressure in the eye is one of the first warning signs for glaucoma, though it is not always present. The risk factors for this condition include age, hypertension, smoking, and genetics. As above, regular eye exams play an important role in the early diagnosis and treatment of glaucoma. Close monitoring and continuous treatment can keep glaucoma from presenting in some cases.
Diabetic retinopathy can also cause blindness, associated with diabetes. The occurrence of this disease increases as the number of patients living with long-term diabetes also increases. It results in damage to the retina as well as the blood vessels within the eye. It often does not present with any symptoms until vision loss is already quite severe. Diabetic patients who have been struggling with the condition for more than 30 years are at the most risk and will often show signs of this disease. Prevention of this can be done by maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise. Those who already have diabetes can reduce their risk of developing diabetic retinopathy by managing their diabetes carefully. Careful regulation of blood sugar, avoiding smoking, and monitoring blood pressure and cholesterol levels are vital.
An annual or biannual eye is the key to prevention of these diseases. Early diagnosis is just as important. Living a healthy lifestyle by eating right and exercising can also help prevent these conditions from ever happening to you. Don’t wait until the last second!
Author bio: George is an advertising consultant who occasionally does work for Eyeglasses4all.com, an online vendor of prescription glasses and designer sunglasses.