By the age of 65, about one-third of Americans have an eye condition that impairs vision. Eye problems are a common and sometimes inevitable part of aging. Some age-related eye conditions are merely annoying, but others can lead to permanent vision impairment if not treated. Thus, early detection and treatment are essential to preserve good vision.
Aging sometimes causes changes that weaken your eyes and eyesight. Fortunately, you can do certain things to maintain lifelong eye health. Some of these solutions are as simple as visiting your eye doctor more frequently to check for age-related eye conditions to using brighter lights to prevent accidents caused by poor eyesight. The leading causes of vision loss are all age-related. These are cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and macular degeneration.
A cataract is a clouding of the lens. The usually transparent lens consists of protein and water. If the protein masses together, they prevent light from transmitting optimally through the lens. When the cataract worsens, it will begin to affect vision. In this case, cataract surgery may be necessary to remove and replace the cloudy lens.
People with cataracts often experience cloudy vision, glare, double vision, halos around lights, and other symptoms. Aging is a significant risk factor for cataracts. Other risk factors include:
A family history of cataracts
Failing to protect your eyes from the sun
Diabetes can cause abnormal changes in the blood vessels in the retina. These changes can cause them to weaken and grow where they should not be growing. The new blood vessels tend to bleed and break easily. As they heal, they often contract and detach the retina.
Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include:
Floaters across the field of vision
Pain in the eye
Partial vision loss
Consistently high blood pressure and blood sugar are other problems associated with diabetic retinopathy.
There is no cure for this eye condition, but laser treatment can effectively prevent vision loss. However, it is only effective when performed before the damage to the retina is too severe. Surgical removal of the vitreous gel may also help improve eyesight if performed early enough.
Glaucoma occurs when there is elevated pressure within the eye. Increased eye pressure can damage the optic nerve and lead to vision loss and blindness. Unfortunately, you may not experience any initial symptoms. That is why glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide.
Many different medications can help treat glaucoma. But in some people, medications alone cannot effectively control increased eye pressure, and surgery may be necessary. Risk factors for glaucoma include age, myopia, steroid medications, and a family history of glaucoma.
MD dramatically affects sight. Although the condition rarely causes complete blindness, driving, writing, and performing other routine functions may be challenging. MD affects the area at the retina's center that controls focused, central vision.
In the early stages of macular degeneration, most people do not experience visual symptoms. As the condition develops, your central vision becomes blurry or wavy. With advanced MD, your central vision may disappear altogether, but your peripheral vision will likely remain intact.
Regular comprehensive eye exams will help detect most age-related eye conditions. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential to prevent permanent damage to your vision and eyes. That is why eye care professionals recommend comprehensive eye exams every one or two years.
For more on common eye diseases, contact Studio Optix at our New York, New York office. Call (212) 765-4444 to schedule an appointment today.