There are many diseases like Alzheimer’s, Cardiovascular problems and Diabetes that can happen in old age, but are not a symptom of it. They can be caused by genetics, diet, or yet unaccounted for causes. Having trouble with our eyes is one of the normal, expected symptoms of aging. Eye disease takes many forms. We will explore three of them one by one:
- AMD – Age Related Macular Degeneration
- According to the National Institute of Health, this is the most common cause of eye disease in the western world in people over 50 years of age. There are other factors that raise the risk of developing AMD like race, your family history, and smoking.
- Symptoms begin by experiencing a blurred area in the center of a person’s vision. Over time, this area can grow or become totally blank. This loss of central vision impairs your ability to see faces, to drive, cook, read and write among other things. It can by very frustrating.
- AMD is diagnosed through multiple tests during a comprehensive dilated eye exam.
- Age Related Cataracts
- There are multiple causes of cataracts that usually manifest in the same ways but not at the same age. A cataract is a buildup of protein on the lens of the eye. The lens is a small hard, usually round, clear disk that sits inside the eye, behind the cornea (the clear outside layer) and the pupil (the black dot in your eye). The cataract normally bends rays of light that enter the eye to focus them through the pupil, back into the retina and optic nerve in order to send the picture (what you are seeing) to the brain.
- When the protein builds up on the cataract it creates a cloudy film. The normally clear lens is not able to bend the light rays correctly and you end up with a blurry picture of what you are looking at. Other symptoms that you may experience could include changes in color, double vision, or high glare from oncoming headlights at night making it difficult to drive.
- This eye disorder isn’t just one. It’s a collection of disorders that lead to damage of the optic nerve. Fluid build-up in the eye can increase pressure on the optic nerve and cause it to deteriorate. Glaucoma is the second highest cause of blindness in the United States. It is difficult to diagnose because the most common for does not present symptoms and develops slowly. Fortunately, there are medications available that can slow or prevent the loss of vision. Because it is difficult to diagnose before major damage to vision is done, the American Optometric Association recommends preventative eye care for those who may be at risk genetically, or through side effects of certain medications. Annual, or even more frequent dilated eye exams for glaucoma may be part of that preventative treatment.
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