As you age, so do your eyes. You might have trouble reading fine print or need brighter lights in your workspace. Some age-related eye changes are very common and do not signify any sort of disease. Other changes, although still common among senior citizens, can indicate a problem.
1. A cataract is a clouding of the lens, a transparent, layered structure that is found behind the iris. A cataract may begin to form as early as the age of 40 or 50 and can go unnoticed. By 60, the cataract may have advanced enough to cause lower vision. In most cases, people with cataracts can undergo surgical treatment to restore adequate vision.
2. Age-related-macular degeneration destroys the macula, which is a cluster of light-sensitive cells in the center of the retina. The macula is responsible for crisp vision and fine perception of detail. Over 15 million Americans have AMD and it is the leading cause for low vision in those over age 60. Early diagnosis and follow-up appointments with your doctor are essential for preserving vision in people with AMD.
3. Glaucoma is a group of diseases in which the optic nerve begins to damage due to excessive fluid pressure in the eyeball. In people with open-angle glaucoma, the most common type, fluid drainage fails to keep pace with the output. Then, pressure builds on the optic nerve as fluid levels continue to rise. This process occurs so gradually that it may only be noticeable once vision loss has occurred. In some cases, the optic nerve can become so damaged that it is unable to send complete signals to the brain. Those over 60 are at a greater risk for developing glaucoma. Treatment includes medication, laser therapy or surgery.
4. Diabetic Retinopathy is the most common diabetic eye disease and contributes to the leading cause of blindness in elderly Americans. In some people with diabetic retinopathy, blood vessels swell and leak fluid. In other cases, new vessels may grow on the surface of the retina. At first, the changes can go unnoticed, but over time diabetic retinopathy can worsen, causing vision loss. Diabetic retinopathy usually affects both eyes.
5. Presbyopia refers to the farsightedness that develops when the lens of the eye and its surrounding muscles lose their elasticity, causing the muscle fibers to become too rigid to contract or relax properly. As a result, they can no longer focus light well enough to produce clear and crisp vision images. This condition can easily be corrected with reading glasses, bi- or trifocals, contact lenses or surgery.
6. Ptosis describes the droopy, hooded eyelid characteristics that occur with aging. If the drooping becomes too extreme that it causes obscure vision, surgery can be considered.
Rand Eye Institute can assist you in delaying these problems and find the right solution for you.