Senior Eye Health
As adults reach age 60 and older, they are more likely to experience eye and vision problems such as cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and vision loss. Most of these conditions are common among aging patients, but with frequent eye examinations, a good diet, and proper eye care, they conditions can be successfully treated or prevented altogether.
As you grow older, it is important to be aware of any changes in your vision. While some conditions such as presbyopia are considered normal and easily corrected, other changes in your vision may be symptomatic of more serious conditions such as glaucoma or macular degeneration. Talk to a certified eye care specialist as soon as you begin to experience changes in your eyesight.
- Presbyopia. Presbyopia is one of the most common age-related eye conditions. This condition is caused by the natural hardening of the lens in your eye, which makes it more difficult to focus on objects that are close to you. Presbyopia can affect adults as young as 40, and gradually becomes more obstructive as you grow older. People who are first noticing the signs of presbyopia often compensate by holding items and reading materials farther away where they are easier to see, but many eventually opt for reading glasses, eyeglasses, contact lenses, or laser eye surgery. Talk to your eye doctor to explore other methods of dealing with this natural loss of close-vision focus.
- Cataracts. Sixty percent of Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 have developed cataracts. These cloudy protein buildups are often seen in older patients and can significantly affect your vision if left untreated. While some cases do not require immediate intervention, cataracts can grow to the point of causing partial or total blindness. At this stage, cataract surgery is the only effective method of clearing your eyesight. If you experience any cloudy spots in your field of vision, schedule a comprehensive eye examination with your doctor right away.
Beyond these common age-related eye conditions, major diseases and impairments include:
- Macular degeneration. Macular degeneration is a serious eye condition which is currently the leading cause of blindness in American seniors. Currently 1.75 million people are affected, and these numbers are expected to increase as the population ages. There is no outright cure for the disease, but many optometrists and ophthalmologists believe that development can be slowed by wearing UV-protecting glasses and maintaining a proper diet. As always, scheduling regular eye examinations with your doctor can help diagnose this condition at its earliest stage.
- Glaucoma. Glaucoma is another serious eye condition that affects older patients, with risk of developing the disease increasing from about 1% at age 40 to 12% at 80. Glaucoma is the name given to a group of diseases that can damage your optic nerve by causing eye pressure to rise. If glaucoma is detected early before damage to the optic nerve occurs, it can be treated with medicinal eye drops, laser treatment, or conventional surgery. Many cases of glaucoma do not present any obvious symptoms, so it is important to schedule frequent checkups. If you notice any changes in your normal vision, contact your local eye doctor as soon as possible.
Age-Related Eye Conditions
Many age-related eye conditions are simply a natural byproduct of human aging, and are often difficult to treat or avoid. However, by following basic eye care tips throughout your life, you give yourself a better chance of maintaining healthy vision well into your senior years. Wearing eye protection, following an appropriate diet, scheduling regular examinations, and paying attention to your overall health will help you in your fight against age-related vision problems. Talk with a certified eye care specialist if you have any questions or concerns about your eyesight as you get older.
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