Aging Eyes? Here’s What to Look For
September is “Healthy Aging” Month and, while you may not buy into the theme-of-the-month concept, it is a good reminder to consider the three most common eye issues that can come with collecting more birthdays: cataracts, macular degeneration, and glaucoma.
Cataracts occur when the lens inside the eye becomes cloudy, which can cause blurred vision, glare, and even double vision. They usually progress slowly, over years, but certain types can change rapidly. Thankfully, cataract surgery improves vision almost immediately, has low complication rates and, by using advanced lens implants, can possibly eliminate the need for glasses entirely.
Macular degeneration (AMD) affects central, high-resolution vision due to the deterioration of the retina (the tissue in the back of the eye that senses light). Early AMD can have no symptoms, but some people might notice difficulty adapting to dark conditions, distorted central vision, and blind spots. AMD is classified as either “dry” or “wet”. “Wet” AMD involves leaky blood vessels which, if left untreated, results in significant vision loss. There are treatments available for “wet” AMD, and the first treatment for advanced “dry” AMD was recently approved by the FDA.
Glaucoma affects peripheral vision by damaging the optic nerve that transmits light signals to the brain (like a USB cable that connects your camera to your computer). This is due to elevated eye pressure which is symptomless until the late stages of the condition when significant vision loss has already occurred. Eye drops and surgeries lower eye pressure to manage glaucoma.
The best way to delay the onset or progress of these ocular conditions (and other aging eye conditions), as well as to reduce their severity, is through lifestyle choices like eating a healthy diet, getting adequate exercise, stress reduction, and avoiding heavy alcohol consumption and all nicotine products.
As with most aging conditions, early detection and treatment are critical. Regular eye exams are the only way these conditions are diagnosed and treated. For those younger than 65, comprehensive eye health exams should happen at least every two years, or more often if there are any ocular or systemic risk factors. People aged 65 and up should have a comprehensive eye health exam every year, or as recommended by their eye physician.
For more information or to schedule a comprehensive exam at Modern Eyes, visit moderneyesnorwood.com, call 781-352-4849, or stop by 696 Washington Street, Norwood.
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