Often seniors assume that poor eyesight is a natural part of growing old. By age 65, it is estimated that 1 in 3 Americans have some form of vision impairing eye disease. By detecting and treating eye disease early through annual eye exams, seniors can preserve their sight.
In a study by John Hopkins University to try to convince Medicare and insurance companies to put stronger emphasis on preventive eye care The report looked at a 5 percent sampling (approximately 1.5 million people) of Medicare beneficiaries continuously enrolled from 1999 to 2003 and concluded that those with moderate, severe and total vision loss experienced increases in depression, injuries and the need for nursing home facilities.
More than half of the cases in the study were due to age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and glaucoma. A sizable number of cases of vision loss were due to cataracts that had not been surgically removed.
There are four major eye diseases that affect seniors the most; cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration and diabetic eye disease.
A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision. Most cataracts are related to aging and are very common in older people. In fact, by age 80, more than half of all Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery.
Symptoms are usually cloudy or poor vision, poor night vision, halos around lights, colors seem faded and the need for frequent changes in prescriptions.
In the early stages difficulty from cataracts may be improved with new eyeglasses, brighter lighting, anti-glare sunglasses, or magnifying lenses. By the later stages cataract surgery may be need to remove the clouded lens and replace it with an artificial lens.
Glaucoma is a group of diseases that can damage the eye’s optic nerve. It is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States, and the most common cause of blindness among African-Americans. More than three million people have glaucoma, but half do not realize it because there are often no warning symptoms.
Damage progresses very slowly and destroys vision gradually, starting with the side vision or what is called peripheral vision. One eye covers for the other, and the person remains unaware of any problem until a majority of nerve fibers have been destroyed, and a large part of vision has been destroyed and straight ahead vision is affected. This damage is irreversible.
Treatment cannot recover what has been lost. But it can arrest, or at least, slow down the damage process. That is why it is so important to detect the problem as early as possible, to be able to start treatment with as little damage to the vision as possible. Medication in the form of eye drops or pills are the most common early treatment for glaucoma. Laser or conventional surgeries are also available options when needed. (Continue this article at the website)
Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
The leading cause of vision loss in over 60s is age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Macular degeneration doesn’t always cause total blindness, but it slowly affects the part of vision that is crucial for recognizing faces and doing detailed work. Blurred vision or a need for more light when you’re reading may occur first. Then, straight lines may begin to appear crooked, and dark or empty spaces may begin to block your central vision, similar to a blind spot when you’re driving.
Diabetic Eye Disease
Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin. There are two types of diabetes; Type 1- is when the body fails to produce insulin, the hormone that allows cells to turn food into energy. Type 2- is when the body is resistant or fails to properly use the insulin, this is the most common form.
Diabetes is already the number one cause of blindness in the United States. Diabetics are 25 times more likely to lose vision than those who are not diabetic according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Proper treatment of diabetic retinopathy can cut the risk of vision loss by over half. Treatment before diabetic retinopathy causes severe loss is much more effective than later in the disease. For this reason, early diagnosis is critical in order to prevent visual loss and blindness. Control of diabetes and blood pressure is important; intensive control of blood glucose can delay onset and slow progression of retinopathy.