What is aging eye care? Conditions, treatment options and more!
At a glance:
Fun Facts and Oddities:
- Visual impairment and blindness are among the top five causes of disability in older adults
- As more Americans retire and beyond, scientists expect the number of people with age-related eye problems to increase dramatically.
- Many eye diseases have no warning symptoms, but could be minimized or slowed with proper treatment. Early detection is the key.
- Effective treatments are now available for many conditions that may have caused blindness or visual impairment in the past.
About aging eyes
You will hardly notice the changes at first. You may have found that you reach for your glasses more often to see up close. You may have trouble getting used to bright light or reading in dim light. You may have even put on blue socks because you thought they were black. These are some of the normal changes in your eyes and vision as you age.
As more Americans retire and beyond, scientists expect the number of people with age-related eye problems to increase dramatically. You can't prevent all age-related changes in your eyesight. However, you can take steps to protect your vision and reduce your risk of serious eye disease in the future. Effective treatments are now available for many conditions that can lead to blindness or visual impairment. You can also learn how to make the most of your vision.
"Visual impairment and blindness are among the top five causes of disability in older adults," says Dr. Cynthia Owsley, eye researcher at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Vision problems can make it difficult to carry out everyday activities, such as. B. read the mail, shop, cook, walk safely and drive a car. "Losing your vision may not be life-threatening, but it certainly affects your quality of life," Owsley says.
As you age, some decline in your senses is expected. Sight is often one of the first senses to be affected by aging. It is important to learn what is normal for aging eyes, what may be a sign of disease, and how to compensate for changes. Even a slight deterioration in one of your senses can be frightening. Not only can it affect your safety and ability to understand your surroundings, but it can also have a major impact on your overall comfort, independence and quality of life.
You can minimize the impact of age-related vision loss on daily life, improve eye health in general, and reduce the risk of disease by monitoring vision problems, identifying problems, creating an eye-friendly environment, and adjusting your lifestyle and dietary habits.
Not all deterioration of vision is the result of disease; certain anatomical changes occur naturally as the eyes age. The various internal and external structures of the eyes, which all work together to help people see clearly at different distances and under different lighting conditions, begin to wear down as we age.
Common age-related vision problems include:
"I can't see as clearly as I used to."
"I have difficulty seeing objects up close."
"Colors do not seem so vivid."
"It is becoming increasingly difficult to see in the dark."
"I can get worse at glare."
"Need more light to see."
The most significant age-related changes seem to occur in the lens and pupil; these are responsible for most of the vision limitations people experience as they age. The extent to which these changes affect vision is somewhat different for each person. But regardless of how much these changes affect you, you can compensate for them and help ensure that they don't jeopardize your safety or make it harder for you to enjoy your life. The solution can be as simple as using brighter lights around the house to avoid accidents caused by low vision, or visiting the doctor more often to check for age-related diseases.
As you age, regular eye exams are very important. Some eye changes may indicate something more serious than age-related changes, such as z. B. An eye disease that requires medical treatment. Even if you don't have eye symptoms, regular checkups are a must.
Many eye diseases have no warning symptoms, but could be minimized or slowed with proper treatment. For example, although eye diseases such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy and retinal detachment are often painless and start insidiously, they can severely affect vision if not treated immediately.
Common age-related eye problems
These are several eye problems that become more common as we age, but can affect anyone. There are some simple steps people of all ages can take to improve their comfort and see better.
Presbyopia is the loss of the ability to see near objects or small print. It's a normal process that happens slowly throughout life. You may not notice until you are 40 years old. A change in the second year of life. People with presbyopia often keep reading material at a distance. Some people get headaches or "tired eyes" when they read or do other work. Presbyopia is often corrected with reading glasses.
Floaters are tiny dots or spots that float across the field of vision. Most people notice them in well-lit rooms or outdoors on a bright day. Floaters are often normal, but can sometimes be indicative of eye problems such as retinal detachment, especially when accompanied by flashes of light. If you notice a sudden change in the type or number of spots or flashes, see your eye doctor as soon as possible.
Blepharitis: is a common inflammation of the eyelids that can be accompanied by itchy, irritated, red eyes and dandruff on the eyelashes. Treatment is aimed at stopping the inflammatory process, keeping the eyelids clean and eliminating the reservoir of bacteria. Early diagnosis and intervention can reduce the severity of the effects and improve the outcome of this often chronic condition
Dry eyes happen when tear glands don't produce enough tears or produce poor quality tears. Dry eyes can be uncomfortable and cause itching, burning, or even vision loss. Your eye doctor may suggest using a humidifier or special eye drops at home that simulate real tears. In more severe cases of dry eyes, surgery may be required.
tearing, or having too many tears, may be due to you being sensitive to light, wind, or temperature changes. Sometimes the problem can be solved by protecting your eyes by shielding them or wearing sunglasses. Tears can also mean you have a more serious problem, such as z. B. An eye infection or a blocked tear duct. In addition, people with dry eyes may tear excessively because dry eyes are easily irritated. Your eye doctor can treat or correct both conditions.
In addition, there are a number of eye diseases and disorders that are common in aging adults:
Cataracts are cloudy areas that cover part or all of the lens. The lens of the eye is as clear as a camera lens. Cataracts prevent light from easily passing through the lens to the back of the eye (the retina), resulting in loss of vision. Cataracts often form slowly and do not cause pain, redness or tearing in the eye. Some remain small and do not alter vision. When they become large or thick, cataracts can often be removed with surgery.
Cataract surgery is very safe and is one of the most common surgeries in the United States. During surgery, the doctor removes the cloudy lens and, in most cases, inserts a clear plastic lens, restoring normal vision.
- Glaucoma is often related to elevated intraocular pressure. If not treated early, this condition can lead to permanent vision loss and blindness. Heredity is a significant risk factor for glaucoma, as are age, race, diabetes, and some medications. Glaucoma is less commonly caused by other factors such as blunt objects or chemical injuries to the eye, severe eye infections, blockages of blood vessels, inflammatory diseases of the eye, and occasionally corrective eye surgery. Most people with glaucoma have no early symptoms or pain from increased pressure. To detect glaucoma, the eye doctor examines your eyes through dilated pupils. Glaucoma can also damage the eye in some people, even with normal pressure in the eye. Treatment may include prescription eye drops, oral medications, laser treatment or surgery.
- Retinal disease is a leading cause of blindness in the United States. The retina is a thin lining at the back of the eye made up of cells that collect and transmit visual images to the brain. Retinal diseases interrupt this image transmission. These include age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and retinal detachment.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The macula is the small central part of the retina that contains millions of light-sensitive nerve cells (cones). This area of the retina is responsible for detailed vision such as face recognition and reading. AMD is characterized by the loss of cells in this area, which causes blurred central vision. It contributes to vision loss but does not cause complete blindness. There is no cure, but some people have been shown to benefit from supplements. People with the more severe type of AMD may benefit from laser or drug injections.
Diabetic retinopathy. This disorder is a complication of diabetes. It occurs when small blood vessels fail to supply the retina properly. In the early stages of diabetic retinopathy, fluid may leak from the blood vessels, causing blurred vision or no symptoms at all. As the disease progresses, you may notice floaters, blind spots, or blurred vision. New blood vessels can grow and bleed into the center of the eye, causing severe vision loss or blindness. In most cases, laser treatment can prevent blindness. It is very important that diabetics have an eye exam with pupil dilation every year. Very importantly, the likelihood of diabetic retinopathy is significantly reduced by good blood glucose control.
Retinal detachment. Retinal detachment occurs when the inner and outer layers of the retina become separated. Without a retina, the eye cannot communicate with the brain, making vision impossible. Symptoms of retinal detachment include: a sudden appearance of spots or flashes of light; vision that appears wavy, as if you are underwater; and a dark shadow somewhere in your field of vision. Through surgery or laser treatment, doctors can often reattach the retina and restore all or part of your vision.
- Conjunctivitis occurs when the tissue lining the eyelids and covering the sclera becomes inflamed. It is sometimes called pink eye or "red eye" Designated. It can cause redness, itching, burning, tearing, or a feeling of something in the eye. Conjunctivitis occurs in people of all ages and can be caused by infections, contact with chemicals and irritants, or allergies.
- Corneal diseases and conditions can cause redness, watery eyes, pain, blurred vision or a halo effect. The cornea is the clear, dome-shaped "window" at the front of the eye. It helps to focus light entering the eye. Disease, infection, injury, toxins and other elements can damage the cornea. Treatments include the use of medicated eye drops. Some corneal diseases may require surgery.
- Keratoconus: This is a deterioration in the structure of the cornea that causes a gradual bulging from a normal round shape to a cone shape. The resulting irregular surface of the eye distorts vision. In most cases, vision is restored with special contact lenses. In extreme cases, a corneal transplant may be required. Eye Consultants uses the latest contact lens technology to restore vision, as well as the ability to transplant corneas on an outpatient basis if needed
- Eyelid problems can be the result of various diseases or conditions. Eyelids protect the eye, distribute tear fluid and limit light entering the eye. Pain, itching, tearing and sensitivity to light are common symptoms of eyelid problems. Other problems may include drooping eyelids (ptosis), blinking spasms (blepharospasm), or inflamed eyelids near the eyelashes (blepharitis). Eyelid problems can often be treated with medication or surgery.
- Arteritis temporalis causes the arteries in the temporal area of the forehead, as well as other parts of the body, to become inflamed and possibly blocked. It may start with severe headaches, pain when chewing, and tenderness in the temple area. Patients may suffer from chronic fever, shoulder or hip weakness, and sensitive scalps. There may be a sudden loss of vision that is permanent. It is diagnosed more often in older women. People with any of these symptoms should see their doctor.
Prevent eye problems
While eye problems and eye diseases become more common as you age, many can be prevented or corrected if you:
See your primary care physician regularly to check for conditions that may be causing eye problems, such as. B. Diabetes.
Visit your lead eye doctor every one to two years. A complete eye exam with an ophthalmologist is important because most eye diseases can be treated if detected at an early stage. The eye doctor dilates or enlarges your pupils by putting drops in your eyes. This is the only way to find some eye diseases that do not have early signs or symptoms. You should also have glaucoma screening done. The doctor will then test your vision, glasses and eye muscles.
Have an eye exam with pupil dilation at least once a year if you have diabetes or a family history of eye disease. See an eye doctor immediately if you suffer from vision loss, blurred vision, eye pain, double vision, redness, swelling of your eye or eyelid, or fluids leaking from the eye.