Keeping Your Eyes Healthy
Age-Related Eye and Vision Changes
After turning 60, our bodies undergo aging, increasing the risk of various eye diseases that can alter vision permanently. Early detection and treatment enhance the likelihood of maintaining good vision. Even with a stable prescription, an annual eye doctor visit encompasses more than a vision test; it aids in identifying underlying health issues. Regular screenings can catch small problems before they escalate. Schedule your yearly eye check-up to uncover potential health conditions. When did you last have your eyes examined?
Following are some common vision disorders:
- Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD): An eye disease that affects the macula (the center of the light-sensitive retina at the back of the eye) and causes central vision loss. Although small, the macula is the part of the retina that allows us to see fine detail and colors. Activities like reading, driving, watching TV, and recognizing faces all require good central vision provided by the macula. While macular degeneration decreases central vision, peripheral or side vision remains unaffected.
- Cataracts: Cloudy or opaque areas in the normally clear lens of the eye. Depending upon their size and location, they can interfere with normal vision. Usually, cataracts develop in both eyes, but one may be worse than the other. Cataracts can cause blurry vision, decreased contrast sensitivity, decreased ability to see under low light level conditions (such as when driving at night), dulling of colors, and increased sensitivity to glare.
- Diabetic Retinopathy: A condition that occurs in people with diabetes. It is the result of progressive damage to the tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina. These damaged blood vessels leak blood and other fluids that cause retinal tissue to swell and cloud vision. The condition usually affects both eyes. The longer a person has diabetes, the greater the risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. In addition, the instability of a person’s glucose measurements over time can impact the development and/or severity of the condition. At its most severe, diabetic retinopathy can cause blindness.
- Dry Eye: A condition in which a person produces too few or poor-quality tears. Tears maintain the health of the front surface of the eye and provide clear vision. Dry eye is a common and often chronic problem, particularly in older adults.
- Glaucoma: is a group of eye diseases characterized by damage to the optic nerve resulting in loss of peripheral (side) vision. It often affects both eyes, typically one eye before the other. If left untreated, glaucoma can lead to total blindness. People with a family history of glaucoma, African Americans, and older adults have a higher risk of developing the disease. Glaucoma is often painless and can have no obvious symptoms until there is a significant loss of side vision.
- Retinal Detachment: A tearing or separation of the retina from the underlying tissue. Retinal detachment most often occurs spontaneously due to changes to the gel-like vitreous fluid that fills the back of the eye. Other causes include trauma to the eye or head, health problems like advanced diabetes, and inflammatory eye disorders. If not treated promptly, it can cause permanent vision loss.