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Eye Health for Older People

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Eye Health for Older People

Many of us take our eyes for granted. Not so for older people as the quality of life diminishes significantly as their eyesight deteriorates. For older people struggling with a host of eye-related diseases and degenerative disorders, looking trendy with the latest fashion in eyewear couldn’t be further from their minds. What matters most to them is the restoration of their vision, so that they can reclaim their sense of independence and confidence. Spectacles are no longer an accessory but a life-saver.

On one hand, there are some eye problems which may occur naturally with aging such as presbyopia, which refers to the difficulty in focusing on near objects that’s caused by the hardening of the lenses over time. When this happens, many of us resort to reading glasses or multifocals or even corrective surgery like LASIK.

On the other hand, there are also age-related eye diseases, which are more serious and require medical intervention. The fact is that after age 40, eye-related issues may develop insidiously and if left undetected and untreated, may permanently alter a person’s vision and, in worst case scenarios lead to blindness.

Understanding eye health and eye care is of particular importance, especially for an older age group.

Glaucoma:
A group of diseases characterised by damage to the optic nerve and may not be restricted to the elderly alone. Those with a family history of glaucoma, and older adults face a higher risk of developing it. This disease affects peripheral vision, can lead to vision loss and blindness, and is associated with high eye pressure. Most types of glaucoma display few symptoms and can go undetected until it’s too late. Treatment options are surgery, medication and lasers. Causes may include a poor diet, smoking and a sedentary lifestyle. Eye drops may be prescribed to help keep the pressure in the eye low because high pressure in the eye increases the risk for glaucoma.

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD):
needed for driving, reading, watching TV and other common tasks. The macula is the spot at the centre of the retina that is needed for sharp vision. It is reported that AMD is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness among Americans aged 65 and above. Causes include aging, a family history of AMD, smoking, and obesity. Blind spots in the central vision are symptomatic of the disease, and although there is no outright cure for it, certain drugs may help.

Cataracts:
A clouding of the lens in the eye which interferes with normal vision. As we age, proteins in the lens clump together forming cloudy areas. You may become more sensitive to glare, colours may appear faded and objects appear hazy. Cataracts are the most common cause of vision loss among people over 40. Glasses and surgery can help rectify the problem.

 

Dry Eyes:
This affects the central vision, which is needed for driving, reading, watching TV and other common tasks. The macula is the spot at the centre of the retina that is needed for sharp vision. It is reported that AMD is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness among Americans aged 65 and above. Causes include aging, a family history of AMD, smoking, and obesity. Blind spots in the central vision are symptomatic of the disease, and although there is no outright cure for it, certain drugs may help.

Diabetic Retinopathy:
Old people who have lived long with diabetes run the risk of diabetic eye disease such as diabetic retinopathy. This occurs when the blood vessels that supply the retina are damaged by high levels of blood sugar. Symptoms include seeing floaters and spots, blurry and distorted vision and eye pain. Laser treatments are available for this disease.

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