Eyesight Getting Worse? Why This Isn’t a Normal Part of Aging
Did you know eye diseases often have no early symptoms, but can be detected through proper testing? Though vision loss isn’t a normal part of aging, as you get older, you are at higher risk of developing issues. This can include age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, dry eye, and other diseases.
By 2050, the number of Americans with age-related eye diseases is expected to double, according to the National Eye Institute. Early detection is key to saving sight so that treatments can be implemented quickly.
Here are a few age-related eye issues that the National Eye Institute says may crop up for older patients, and some warning signs.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
This is a problem with your retina that causes you to lose your central vision, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. This means you can’t see fine details up close or far away, but your peripheral vision is unaffected.
Some risk factors for AMD include being over 50 years old, eating a diet high in saturated fat, obesity, smoking, hypertension, and family history.
When you have higher than normal blood sugar levels, this can cause damage to blood vessels in the retina, leading them to swell and leak, or close, leads to loss of blood flow.
There are several stage to diabetic retinopathy, but if you have diabetes and are worried about your eye health, visit your eye doctor (see our blog post for what type of professional you should see) and look out for such symptoms as blurry vision, fluctuating vision from blurry to clear, increased number of floaters, blank or dark areas in your vision field, low night vision, colors appearing faded or washed out, and vision loss.
There are several different types of glaucoma. It’s a leading cause of blindness for people over 60 years old, but blindness from the disease can be prevented with early treatment. So get your annual eye exam! Getting your exam is especially important because glaucoma typically starts with periferal vision loss, so you may not even notice a change until the permanent vision loss is severe. The AAO says there are two major types of glaucoma — primary open-angle glaucoma (the most common type) and angle-closure glaucoma.
Primary open-angle glaucoma is scary, because it is mostly painless and causes no vision changes early on. Regular eye exams will detect early signs of damage to the optic nerve, allowing patients to save their vision.
Angle-closure glaucoma, also known as closed-angle or narrow-angle glaucoma, can cause an acute attack that includes a number of not-so-fun symptoms, including severe eye pain, headache, nausea, sudden blurry vision, and other issues.
…May we suggest the Nanodropper to help with adherence to your medicated eyedrops for this disease?
The vast majority of cataracts are developed as a result of aging. Read our blog post about the common myths that circulate about cataracts, and how much you should be concerned about them!
While low vision isn’t necessarily a result of aging, it can be caused by many of the diseases and issues described above! It all goes back to making sure you take care of your eye health by getting an annual exam, which can catch a lot of problems before they cause permanent vision loss. If you do end up with lower vision as you age, it’s not something to be ashamed of. You can still live a great life with lower vision! The AAO has great resources people can utilize if they are in need of vision rehabilitation to learn how to adjust to life with low vision.
These are just the common eye diseases and issues associated with aging. In the future we will discuss neuro-ophthalmic disorders, neuro-ophthalmology, and how these issues can foretell other issues within the human body.
Be proactive with your eye health! Seek out an eyecare professional, schedule your annual exam, and come ready with all the questions you need answered. It’s time to take back control of your eye health!
For more videos like the ones featured in this blog, check out Dr. Joseph Allen, O.D., F.A.A.O’s YouTube channel, Doctor Eye Health. His channel offers easy-to-follow, entertaining videos on the best tips and education about the eyes and vision.