Like most parts of the body, the eye undergoes changes with aging that increase the risk of developing eye conditions. In this article, I will go over some of the common eye conditions that develop over time. Optometrists monitor for eye diseases during every eye exam and these examinations become even more important when you are over the age of 50. As people age, they have an increased risk of developing glaucoma, macular degeneration, and cataracts. So what is glaucoma, macular degeneration, and cataracts? Let’s get into some key points on each of these conditions.
- Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in Canada. It is a group of eye diseases that progressively damages the optic nerve. Glaucoma is often asymptomatic in the early to moderate stages and will go undetected without an eye exam. Usually the peripheral vision is affected first, followed by the central vision. Eye care professionals use many tests to screen for glaucoma. This is why Optometrists check your eye pressure, assess your optic nerve, and may even run an OCT scan at your eye exam. If caught early, glaucoma can usually be managed well with eye drops and laser treatments. In severe cases it may require surgery.
- Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in adults over the age of 55. The macula is responsible for your detailed central vision. This disease occurs when cellular waste products build up in your macula. At the very early stages, macular degeneration can also be symptom free. The first symptom is usually a sense of blur that cannot be cleared up with glasses. This can progress a larger blurred area that can interfere with reading, watching TV, seeing objects, and recognizing faces. Macular Degeneration can have a slowly progressing form called dry AMD and a fast progressing form called wet AMD. It is important to have a screening for both types of AMD at an interval recommended by your eye care professional. Wet AMD can often be treated with medications injected into the eye if caught early. Currently, eye vitamin supplementation is the recommended treatment for dry AMD and is also more successful if caught early.
- Cataracts occur when the clear lens inside your eye becomes cloudy. Cataracts occur in everyone as the eye ages and is most common over the age of 60. Early Cataracts often will cause blurry vision, especially in low light conditions. They often cause changes to glasses prescriptions as they progress. Eventually, they will progress to the point where cataract surgery is required. Cataract surgery is usually about a 10 minute procedure and is one of the most successful surgeries in North America.
If you have any questions about any of these conditions, please book an eye exam at Nuvue Optometry any time. We are always excited to meet new people in our community and we’re accepting new patients.
Dr Devin W Almond, BSc, OD