Eye diseases that can be associated with age… (Please also see part 1- How your vision changes with age)
Many changes in your vision can be compensated for with corrective lenses; however others can lead to serious eye diseases that can cause irreversible vision loss and even blindness. It is important to be aware of what these conditions are, and how best to protect yourself from any type of damage they may cause. Even conditions that may be unavoidable can be slowed down with early detection. While Presbyopia is by far the most common vision problem caused by aging, there are a few others you should be familiar with:
Glaucoma– Is a condition that can cause extreme pressure build up within the eyeball itself which can gradually cause blindness if left untreated. If caught early these damaging effects can be slowed or prevented with the use of prescription eye drops. These drops help to reduce the pressure in the eye by reducing fluid production and increasing drainage from your eye.
Cataracts- Is a clouding of the normally clear lens of the eye that can cause noticeable vision loss. On average about half of all North Americans between the ages of 65-75 have cataracts that are decreasing their vision. Cataract surgery removes the clouded lens and replaces it with a clear artificial lens, restoring vision.
Macular Degeneration- This condition is caused by the breaking down of the macula. The macula is located towards the back of the eye and is about 5mm in diameter. Its function is to act like a natural sunblock for the eyes absorbing any excess ultraviolet light. According to Wikipedia “can make it difficult or impossible to read or recognize faces, although enough peripheral vision remains to allow other activities of daily life.” Macular Degeneration is currently the leading cause of blindness in North Americans over 65 years of age. There is currently no treatment for the “dry” form of this condition however in certain “wet” cases surgery can help to preserve what is left of a patient’s vision. (For more information on the differences between wet and dry degeneration please visit Wikipedia)
Dry Eyes- Tear quality and tear production may begin to decrease with age causing this condition. Dry eyes can cause irritation and discomfort, and extreme cases can even cause damage to your corneas. Your optometrist can prescribe artificial tear drops as well as a few other alternatives to help relieve the symptoms. (For more information on Dry Eyes, please read our previous post)
Having annual eye exams is the best way to help protect your vision. It is very important to detect these conditions at the earliest possible stages to help prevent permanent damage to your eyes. If you notice any changes in your vision, make sure to speak with your optometrist as soon as possible in an effort to have your symptoms diagnosed.