While some will become significantly visually impaired, others with become legally blind. Three age-related eye diseases are the primary cause of this vision loss.
This eye disease affects the central vision. There are two types of macular degeneration:
1. “dry” macular degeneration, which progresses slowly.
2. “wet” macular degeneration, which progresses very rapidly, resulting in severe loss of vision very quickly.
With either form of the disease, the part of the retina called the macula degenerates. The first symptom may be the need to have more light when reading or doing close work. Though it is most commonly diagnosed in people who are in their sixties, it can be diagnosed earlier.
Treatment varies, depending on the form of macular degeneration. Laser treatments can help some who have the ‘wet’ form of the disease.
It won’t restore lost vision but, by sealing the blood vessels that are leaking, it will slow down the disease since new abnormal blood vessel growth will be discouraged.
There is currently no treatment for ‘dry’ macular degeneration but certain vitamins seem to help people who have intermediate macular degeneration. The vitamins that can be taken are:
- 400 IU Vitamin E
- 500 mg Vitamin C
- 80 mg Zinc
- 15 mg Beta Carotene or 20 mg Lutein
- 2 mg Copper
Many stores now carry supplements made specific for eye health that contain these vitamins.
Glaucoma, often referred to as ‘tunnel vision’, causes the optic nerve to become damaged by rising fluid pressure in the eye.
There are frequently no early symptoms but can be detected through a comprehensive eye exam. When symptoms do appear, it is the peripheral vision that is affected, giving the feeling of looking through a tunnel.
Though it is usually considered an age-related disease, other groups of people are at risk for glaucoma. These include Mexican Americans over 60, those with a family history of glaucoma and African Americans over 40. People in these groups should be tested every couple of years or more often.
There are two possible treatments for glaucoma. The first is prescription eye drops and the second is Glaucoma Filtration Surgery. An ophthalmologist can determine which treatment is appropriate for a patient.
Cataracts are the most common of the age-related eye diseases. It is estimated that half of all Americans who are 80 years old either have cataracts or have had cataract surgery.
With cataracts, the lenses of the eyes become cloudy. Symptoms that commonly occur with cataracts are seemingly faded colors, double vision, the need to change eyeglass prescriptions often, glare, loss of night vision, and generally blurry vision.
Cataracts develop quite slowly most of the time.
Some non-surgical methods of coping with cataracts are brighter lights, sunglasses with anti-glare coating , magnifying lenses and, of course, new prescription eyeglasses.
Surgery is an option that many people choose. Here, the cloudy lens is removed and replaced with an artificial lens.
If you suspect you may have one of these three eye diseases, visit your doctor to discuss you concerns. New methods of treatment are being studied for them and your doctor will know of any that might be tried if you are a candidate for them.