June 30, 2020
Aging affects all parts of our bodies, including our eyes, where changes in the health of our eyes and our vision are more likely as we get older and this can cause a natural deterioration in your vision. You may have already been attending regular appointments with your eye doctor, and it is essential to maintain this as you age so that your vision can continue to be carefully monitored by a trained and experienced professional who knows the early signs of eye diseases and how to avoid them.
There are some age-related eye diseases that are particularly common. Regular eye exams will help to ensure that signs of these diseases are identified early, enabling prompt treatment. As a result, geriatric eye care appointments can potentially prevent patients from experiencing unpleasant and debilitating symptoms and stop temporary and even permanent vision loss.
Some of the most common age-related eye diseases are:
Cataracts occur when the natural lens of the eye, which is usually clear, develops cloudy patches that compromise the quality of your vision. This happens due to a change in the microscopic substances found in the lens of the eye as the previously evenly dispersed proteins bunch together into clumps. Many people who develop cataracts liken the effect to permanently looking through frosted glass. Without treatment, a patient with cataracts will eventually become blind. The most effective way of dealing with cataracts is to have surgery to remove the natural lens and replace it with an artificial alternative known as an intraocular lens or IOL. This surgery is common and straightforward, with minimal risk of complications provided it is carried out by an experienced ophthalmologist.
As its name suggests, macular degeneration occurs when a part of the eye that is essential for central vision, called the macular, starts to degenerate with age. Although patients with macular degeneration rarely go blind, many find that their vision is impaired enough to negatively affect their quality of life. For example, patients with macular degeneration can find it tricky to recognize faces, see colors clearly or see fine details of the world around them. There is no cure for macular degeneration, but if it is caught early, there are treatments that can slow its progress and help patients to preserve their vision for longer.
Since age is the biggest risk factor for developing macular degeneration, regular appointments with your eye doctor for geriatric eye care are particularly strongly recommended after the age of 40.
Glaucoma is an eye condition that is caused by elevated pressure within the eyes themselves. This pressure causes damage to the optic nerve, and unless treated promptly, could result in pain, loss of peripheral vision, and eventually, tunnel vision. Any sight that is lost due to glaucoma is irreversible, so it is essential that your eyes are checked regularly, particularly when you are over the age of 50 when glaucoma is more likely. Fortunately, there are a number of treatments available to get glaucoma under control. These range from eye drops to a surgical solution called a trabeculectomy. The earlier glaucoma is diagnosed, the easier it usually is to treat.
Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes and has the potential to cause irreversible blindness. It occurs because diabetes causes abnormal changes in the blood vessels serving the retina, which causes them to leak fluid onto the retina which causes scarring. The blood vessels can also grow in areas where they should. As they try to heal, the damaged blood vessels contract and this can cause the retina to detach. There isn’t currently a cure for diabetic retinopathy but getting your diabetes fully under control can help. In some cases, patients will need laser treatment to prevent vision loss. Detecting diabetic retinopathy early is essential to maintain your current vision and eye health.
Comprehensive geriatric eye care exams are the best way to maintain healthy eyes and clear vision for as long as possible as you get older. To find out more, or to schedule an appointment, please get in contact with our knowledgeable eye care team in Rockport, ME.