How does aging affect our eyes?

Last week, when I discussed our “new year resolutions on health”, I said the “eye”, should be one of our focal points when deciding how to look after ourselves.

   As we age, there are (6) things that affect our eyes, according to Mark Stibich(PhD), as reviewed by Richard N Fogoros (MD). They are:

1) Cataracts

2) Dry eye

3) Glaucoma

4) Age-related Macular Degeneration(AMD)

5) Retinal Detachment

6) Diabetic retinopathy

• The 6th may not affect you, if you do not have diabetics, but surely the other (5), may affect us one way or the other.

• Eye problems and disorders are common in the elderly population. Laser surgeries and other treatments exist to correct and even reverse some of these aging related conditions

• The key is to detect them early, as I suggested last week. Regular eye exams will help detect vision problems, that can effect people at various stages in life, but often affect the elderly. Let us quickly summarise the (5) conditions as stated above.

1) Cataracts

• Your eye has a lens that helps it to focus. The lens is made of protein. When protein molecules clump, a cloudy spot – a cataract forms.

   • This is common in the older people, because cataracts grow slowly, your eye doctor may simply monitor a cataract until it interferes with vision.

• Cataract surgery is a very common procedure to remove the cataract from your eye.

   • Talk to your eye doctor whenever you notice blurred vision, as you age, and corrective lenses are no longer helping.

2) Dry Eye.

   • Your eyelids have lacrimal glands, that produce tears, and they drain into your tear ducts in your lower eye lids.

• If your lacrimal glands stop working well, your eyes will become dry and uncomfortable.

   • Eye drops or artificial tears can help, but consult an ophthalmologist to have your eyes properly evaluated, to rule out other eye diseases.

   • There may be simple procedure to partially plug your tear duct – to keep tears from draining too fast.

3) Glaucoma

• Four weeks ago, I discussed glaucoma in details. Let me just recap here. 

• The eye is filled with fluid. If too much pressure develops in the in the eye, it is called glaucoma. Over time, this build up pressure can damage the optic nerve and cause blindness.

• Luckily, this pressure develops slowly, and routine eye exams, as I mentioned last week, can detect glaucoma before it becomes dangerous. Note also that glaucoma runs in the family. So if your granny or parents had open-eye-blindness please start early eye exams from 40.

4) Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

   • This is a very long term for loss of central vision. The Macula is a part of the retina that processes central vision.

  • Sometimes with aging, the macula deteriorates. This causes problems with driving, reading and many common tasks.

   • Treatment can include laser surgery on the macula.

   • Consult your ophthalmologist if you notice early central vision loss.

5) Retinal Detachment

   • The layers of the retina can detach from the underlying support tissue. If untreated, retinal detachment can cause loss of vision or blindness.

• Symptoms include 1) Increase in the number of “floaters” in the eyes. 2) Seeing bright flashes of light. 3) Feeling as if a curtain has been been pulled over the field of vision. Or 4) Seeing straight lines that appear curvy.

• Surgery and laser treatment can often re-attach the layers of the retina.

6) Diabetic Retinopathy

• Due to problems with diabetes and the control of blood sugar, the tiny blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients to the retina become less effective, which leads to vision problems.

  • Treatment includes laser surgery and a surgical procedure known as a vetrectomy.

• NB – All diabetics as I mentioned last week should have annual eye exams.

• Eye is so important so do not treat it with levity. Be medically guided.

Please follow me on twitter ; @ _ DRSUN.

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Author: Uche Atuma