4 Most Common Age-Related Vision Diseases or Problems
Many people experience different vision problems as they grow older but these eye problems are not something that can be simply ignored. Some of these eye problems happen gradually while some of them happen suddenly that can even cause blindness. According to National Eye Institute (NEI) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 3.3-4.1 million Americans with an age of 40 and older are blind or have low vision. According to NEI, the most common eye diseases diagnosed in people over the age of 40 are Age-Related Macular Degeneration, Cataract, Diabetic Eye Disease, and Glaucoma.
Older people have an increased risk of vision loss with these eye diseases if they are not detected and treated timely. That is why a standard eye exam is recommended at the age of 40 in order to detect an eye problem at an early stage and to help prevent serious vision loss. If you are at high risk of developing an eye problem then you must have an eye exam yearly. If you are not at high risk then eye exam every 2 to 4 years is recommended until you are 54, because afterward, you must have an eye exam every 1 to 3 years. When you reach 65, consider eye exams every 1 to 2 years.
Here’s what you should know about most common eye diseases that affect older people:
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD):
In Age-Related Macular Degeneration, the macula – central portion of retina – becomes damaged and destroyed affecting the central vision which is necessary for the finely detailed vision of a person. There are two types of AMD, dry age-related macular degeneration, and wet age-related macular degeneration. About 90% cases of AMD are of dry form making it most common type of AMD. Remaining 10% cases are of wet AMD that is the advanced and more damaging stage of the condition causing serious vision loss.
Symptoms: A common symptom of dry AMD is blurred central vision. A common symptom of wet AMD is that the straight lines appear as wavy. Other symptoms of AMD include difficulty in seeing fine details such as words on a page or recognizing faces and blank or dark spots blocking the central vision.
Treatment: The treatment of dry AMD is aimed to slow down the progress of the disease. Certain dietary supplements help in stabilizing the disease in some patients and these include vitamin C, vitamin E, antioxidants, zinc, lutein, and zeaxanthin. The treatment of wet AMD includes special drug injections, laser surgery, and photodynamic therapy.
Cataract is the eye condition in which the normal lens of the eye becomes cloudy resulting in blurry vision. At the initial stage, Cataracts are small and not affect the vision but as they grow denser, they start affecting your vision. Older people are at high risk of developing Cataract.
Symptoms: Some common symptoms of Cataract include cloudy or blurry vision, poor night vision, faded colors, sensitivity to light and glare, halos around lights and double vision.
Treatment: The treatment of early stages of Cataract include contact lens or new eyeglass prescription, using magnifying lenses, using brighter lighting and wearing sunglasses. If Cataract starts interfering with your daily activities then the ophthalmologist recommends surgical treatment that includes Cataract Surgery. The surgical removal of the cloudy lens is the most common and safe treatment option done in the United States. During the surgery, the eye doctor removes the cloudy lens and replaces it with an artificial intraocular lens (IOL).
Glaucoma is the group of eye diseases that can cause blindness. High pressure inside the eye (intraocular pressure) or poor blood circulation damages the optic nerve of the eye that carries images from eye to the brain. Glaucoma develops gradually with no clear symptoms appear until it completely damages the optic nerve and that is why most of the people who have it, don’t know about it.
Symptoms: As the condition progresses, people start noticing progressive vision loss, while other symptoms are blurry vision, narrowed peripheral (side) vision, problems in focusing and seeing halos around lights.
Treatment: There is no cure of Glaucoma because the lost vision cannot be restored, but early diagnosis and effective treatment help to prevent you from serious vision loss. The different treatment options for Glaucoma include eye drops or medications (to reduce eye pressure), laser treatments and surgery (to create an opening for fluid to easily drain from the eye).
Diabetic Eye Disease:
People with diabetes are at increased risk of developing certain eye problems. The most common eye diseases particularly affecting the diabetic people are Diabetic Retinopathy, Cataract, and Glaucoma. We have already explained about Cataract and Glaucoma in this post, while here we briefly explain Diabetic Retinopathy.
Diabetic Retinopathy is the eye condition in which high blood sugar levels cause damage to the blood vessels of the retina, which is a light-sensitive layer of tissue located at the back of the eye. As a result, these blood vessels can swell, leak or close (to stop blood passing through them) or sometimes, abnormal and new blood vessels grow on the retina. All these problems can cause permanent vision loss.
Symptoms: At an early stage of the disease, there are no symptoms noticed. But the symptoms start appearing when the disease is getting advanced so that is why it is recommended to have an eye exam if you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes. Early diagnosis and proper treatment of the condition can help in preventing the vision loss. The symptoms include blurred vision, floating spots, dark or empty areas in vision.
Treatment: The treatment of Diabetic Retinopathy is aimed to stop or slow down the progress of the disease because the lost vision cannot be restored. These treatment options may reduce the risk of blindness and serious vision loss. The treatment options include scattered laser treatment (for the newly abnormal growth of blood vessels), vitrectomy (to remove blood from the center of the eye) and focal laser treatment (performed to stabilize the vision).
If you are over the age of 40 years and want to undergo an eye exam or whether you’re at greater risk of developing an eye disease then you can contact board-certified ophthalmologists and optometrists at Menger Eye Centers in Glendale, NYC. They are highly accomplished specialists in treating different types of eye diseases affecting the people. You will be given workable customized treatment with advanced facilities for diagnosis along with personalized care.