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Age Associated Eye Problems

Aug 27, 2008
As we grow older, our eyes age with our bodies, therefore it is important to know about the risks we may encounter and how we can avoid them.

A common eye condition linked with age is macular degeneration. In fact, because of its link to age it is called AMD or age related macular degeneration.

AMD is caused by the deterioration of the tissues in the macula which is the part of the eye that controls central vision. There is no cure for AMD. It is chronic.

The deterioration results in blurred central vision. You may also notice a blind spot in the center of your vision field.

There are two kinds of AMD - dry and wet. The wet is the most severe but fortunately, the least prevalent. It is seen only in 15% of AMD patients. In wet AMD there is significant visual distortion in which straight lines appear as wavy or crooked. Sometimes objects appear to be smaller or farther away than they actually are. There is also a central vision loss characterized by a central blurry spot.

In dry macular degeneration, the patients notice that it becomes more difficult to adjust to low levels of illumination; blurriness of printed words increases; colors seem less bright or intense and they may encounter problems in recognizing faces. Everything seems more and more hazy and there is a blind spot in the center of your vision field. There is also a need for increasingly brighter light.

Both types can affect one eye and not the other. Often a person is not aware of having it as the non-affected eye compensates for the partner eye.

Cataracts, the clouding of the eyes natural lens, also become more common as we age. There are 3 types of cataracts and they are categorized according to where in the eye they occur. A nucleus cataract forms in the center of the lens. Sub-capsular cataracts start at the back of the lens and cortical cataracts begin in the cortex. They may also spread to the center.

Cataracts are easily removed with outpatient surgery and results are excellent. During the operation, the surgeon removes the clouded lens and inserts a clear plastic intra-ocular lens. Scientists work daily to develop new and better replacement lens for use in cataract surgery.

Another age-related eye problem is known as dry eye syndrome. This is due the reduction in the production of tears, as we get older. While it does not cause vision loss, it is still very painful.

Since it is so important to detect eye problems in their early stages, ophthalmologists recommend that people 65 and over have a dilated eye exam every one to two years.

Because the tissues of the aging eye are so vulnerable, it is important to wear UV protective lenses when outdoors in the daytime, even on a cloudy day. The sunglasses should be so designed that light does not leak in on the sides. It is also important to avoid cigarette smoke.

Some people with dry eye syndrome find relief by using preservative free eye drops. Physicians often recommend the use of these following a cataract operation.

Blindness is probably one of the most crippling disabilities so it is important to be aware of the risks and protect oneself against them.
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