The Aging Eye
Many eye diseases and disorders are more common as we age . But advances in ophthalmology allow most people to maintain good vision as they grow older. The most common condition is the clouding of the crystalline lens of the eye, this is called a cataract. A cataract cuts down on our sight, similar to when your glasses are dirty and you cannot see through it clearly. Cataracts do not hurt the health of the eye. After consultation with your eye doctor, you may elect to have the cataract removed surgically. Another common condition is glaucoma, a disease of the optic nerve. Treatments are directed at lowering eye pressure and saving the optic nerve. Damage to the optic nerve prevents the visual message from being sent from the eye to the brain and leads to eventual blindness unless it is recognized and treated early.
When we are young, the lens of our eye is soft and flexible allowing us to focus on objects both close and far away. As we grow older the lens cannot change shape as easily and it is more difficult to read at close range. Symptoms of this condition called presbyopia usually first appear around the age of forty. Presbyopia can be easily corrected with the use of reading glasses.
The leading cause of vision loss in Americans over the age of sixty is Macular Degeneration. This is damage or breakdown of the macula, a tiny area in middle of the retina responsible for central vision. Common symptoms include blurriness, darkness in the center of vision, and straight lines that may appear wavy. Your ophthalmologist can discuss possible treatments and though a cure does not yet exist, there are many optical devices designed to help maintain a satisfying lifestyle.