This September is Healthy Aging Month! Every September, the American Academy of Ophthalmology encourages older adults to receive a comprehensive eye examination. As we get older, our eyes are more likely to develop diseases or disorders. By receiving regular comprehensive eye exams, we’re more likely to notice these disorders before they permanently damage our vision.
Common eye conditions that affect older Americans include:
- Age-related macular degeneration
- Diabetic eye disease
It’s important to keep in mind that many of these diseases have no early symptoms. Even if your vision seems fine, regularly meet with your eye doctor to rule out these common illnesses.
What is age-related macular degeneration?
Age-related macular degeneration – also known as AMD – is a degenerative eye disease in which the center of the retina (or the macula) breaks down. People who develop this disorder have trouble focusing on objects straight ahead of them. They may struggle with basic activities like reading, driving or watching television. AMD is treatable. Injections, supplements, photodynamic therapy and laser surgery are all ways in which doctors can work to prevent further loss of vision.
What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is an eye disease in which damage to the ocular nerve gradually (or quickly) affects vision, ultimately resulting in blindness. It is typically divided into two subtypes: open-angle glaucoma and closed-angle glaucoma. People with high eye pressure are at a particularly high risk of developing the disorder, as well people with high blood pressure. African Americans and Mexican Americans are also at an increased risk of developing the disorder. Unfortunately, the vision loss associated with glaucoma is irreversible, making early detection essential. Certain medications and surgeries can slow or prevent disease progression, saving your vision.
What is a cataract?
A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s natural lens. Individuals with cataracts often complain about cloudy or blurry vision, glare, difficulties seeing at night, double vision in one eye, and frequent prescription changes in their glasses or contact lenses. Since the early symptoms of cataracts can be subtle, it’s important to meet regularly with your eye doctor, especially after age 60. The only cure for cataracts is to have them removed – thankfully, doctors have been treating cataracts for thousands of years. During cataract surgery, your eye will be numbed and the doctor will carefully remove the old lens and replace it with a new, artificial lens.
What is diabetic eye disease?
Diabetic eye disease is any eye disease that disproportionately affects individuals with diabetes. Diabetic eye diseases include diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema, glaucoma, and cataracts. If you have diabetes, you should regularly meet with your eye doctor to make sure that your eyes are healthy. Once again, many of these diseases have no early symptoms, which makes comprehensive eye exams essential.
What to learn more?
South East Eye would be happy to help you learn more about eye conditions that plague older adults. Contact us today to set up a comprehensive, dilated eye exam.