No one wants to age, but it is a fact of life. As you age, certain parts of your body start working less efficiently, including your eyes. If you find yourself holding your paper further away from your face to see the words, straining your eyes to read something or experiencing chronic headaches, you could be suffering from failing eyesight. In addition to it being a normal part of aging, failing eyesight could also be a result of diabetes, high blood pressure, glaucoma or environmental hazards from your occupation. It becomes increasingly important to see your eye care professional every two years after you hit the age of forty to be able to diagnose and care for these problems as early as possible.
Vision and Aging
Dry Eye, an ailment that can cause headaches, blurred vision, scratchy or burning eyes, and fatigue, used to be considered something that older people or computer programmers were prone to catch. In reality, anyone – even children – can suffer from dry eyes.
Dry eye occurs for a variety of reasons. For instance, it may occur if your eyes do not produce enough tears or if the quality of your existing tears is poor. Environmental factors, like air conditioning or allergies, may also trigger a dry-eye reaction.
While adults most commonly get dry eye, children can as well, although it is much harder for doctors to detect. If you notice that your child seems to be rubbing her eyes a lot, she may have dry eyes. A number of factors cause dry eyes in children. Inflammation due to graft-versus-host disease and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis can cause diminished or poor-quality tear production. Congenital disorders like Familial Dysautonomia, Allgrove syndrome, poor nutrition and diabetes are also causes of dry eye in children.
In teens and young adults, dry eye is often caused by too much caffeine, lack of sleep, alcohol consumption, improper wear of contact lenses, and vasoconstricting topical drops. Many young adults mistakenly believe that drops that whiten their eyes are actually lubricating them, but the opposite is true.
In older adults, hormonal changes, too much computer use, lack of sleep, medications, autoimmune deficiency and poor nutritional habits can contribute to uncomfortably dry eyes. If you are noticing any of these symptoms in your children or yourself, see your eye doctor.
Promising new research in the treatment and prevention of cataracts and degenerative eye disorders is suggesting that a new antioxidant called NACA (N-acetylcysteine amide) may not only prevent but cure cataracts, macular degeneration and other degenerative eyes disorders. Researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology have developed an eye drop solution using NACA and have experienced successful results on animals. Animals were given a solution which would aid in the formation of cataracts but, when given the NACA eye drop solution, the cataracts were not only diminished but were prevented from forming. Successful results using animals may eventually support the viability of human usage.
NACA is a good source of glutathione, a cell’s main antioxidant power, which is diminished when degenerative eye disorders such as cataracts and macular degeneration are present. NACA eye drops are an improvement on other experimental treatments because it passes more easily across cell membranes allowing medication to be used in smaller doses. NACA eye drops could drastically reduce the costs association with degenerative eye disorders and the need for surgeries. Currently more than $9 million is spent annually in the U.S. on cataract surgery alone.
Of course, it’s obvious when you need reading glasses. And it’s obvious when you experience a sudden vision event like a torn retina. But what about slowly diminishing night vision? Or persistent irritation in or around the eyes?
The slowness of the change in certain elements means it may take awhile to realize that such changes are persistent rather than temporary. You may notice a sticky or gritty buildup around the eye or that your tear production has dropped off. Maybe the conjunctiva, the thin membrane that covers the inner surface of the eyelid and the white part of the eyeball, is yellowing. The cornea, too, can form an opaque ring around its edge as we age.
Many age-related changes are normal and cause no problems. Others have annoying side effects that we can help you manage. We can recommend products that will help decrease annoyance and increase comfort.
Some changes can have more serious consequences. If the eyelid muscles weaken and cause the upper lid to droop, excessively reducing peripheral vision, that can be a cause for concern. If cataracts advance to the point that you are compromising your chosen activities, that may be reason to take action. If you start to notice persistent changes in vision (black spot in the center of your vision or blurred edges), it can indicate the onset of more serious conditions.
Your best insurance against impaired vision is to be attentive to vision changes and to keep regular comprehensive vision examinations. Bring your concerns with you and we can discuss causes and solutions. If you feel you have a condition that needs immediate attention, call and we’ll get you in for an examination as quickly as possible.
We hear so much in the media about the rise of disease that we thought we’d pass along some heartening information.
According to a recent study, about half as many older people today -as compared to a generation ago- need help performing daily tasks due to vision problems. Difficulty in reading and seeing has also declined from 23% in 1984 to 10% in 2010.
Improved techniques for cataract surgery “may be a major driving force” according to Dr. Angelo Tanna, the study’s lead author. Changes in nutrition and lifestyle may also be factors. For instance, reduction in smoking has been linked with lowered vision loss and improved glucose control in diabetics may lower incidences of diabetic retinopathy.
Other contributing factors to these positive findings may include more advanced treatments for slowing vision loss, increased use of glasses or contact lenses and refractive surgery.
Education and general awareness of vision issues is also on the rise as the general public increasingly recognizes the importance of eye care, regular comprehensive eye examinations, and protections for the eyes against weather, sports hazards and workplace dangers.
Seniors are especially prone to vision changes. But because of heightened awareness of eye disease, many more are proactive about scheduling eye appointments to track changes than was the case a generation ago.
A likely factor in this rosy trend is the ever-increasing range of therapies available to eye care professionals combined with increased education, awareness, and proactive care on the part of our patients.
Congratulations to all older Americans for taking better care of those important peepers.
Sponsored by Prevent Blindness America, the “20/20 at 40″ program focuses national attention on working-age adults at a time in their lives when their eyes start to change and vision issues often begin to emerge.
If you or someone you know is approaching that magical 40th year and has not yet seen an eye care professional, suggest scheduling an appointment with us. A baseline eye exam can establish whether or not the eyes are beginning to change and identify the early presence of any vision issues.
Two common diseases that often start to appear in people around the time they turn forty are diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. Diabetic retinopathy affects nearly 5 million Americans who are forty or older. According to the Prevent Blindness America website, “The longer someone has diabetes, the greater the chance of retinopathy.”
Glaucoma affects one in 50 Americans who are forty or older. It is easy for us to detect it. But glaucoma can lead to blindness without a comprehensive eye exam so it is important to identify the condition as early as possible. We can control glaucoma with treatment and we offer many choices for you to keep it from further damaging your eyes.
Nearly all eye conditions benefit from early detection and treatment. Make sure you, co-workers, family and friends establish a vision baseline on time.
Give us a call to schedule an appointment or if you need information for a referral.
It may seem silly to have an observance such as Cataract Awareness Month. But not when you consider a few facts:
• cataracts are the leading cause of blindness
• 22.3 million Americans age 40 or older have cataracts
• more than half of all Americans will have cataracts by age 80
• more than 2 million cataract surgeries are performed every year in the U.S.
At some time in your life, you will come into contact with this issue, either personally or through someone you know. Forewarned is forearmed and we’d like to give you some useful information before you need it.
Cataracts cloud the lens of the eye, blocking light from reaching the retina. The result is blurry or dim vision. The older you get, the more likely you’ll develop cataracts. But age isn’t the only factor. Long-term exposure to ultraviolet sunrays, diabetes, inflammation, heredity, pre-birth conditions, long-term steroid use, injuries, diseases and smoking are all linked to cataracts.
Two sneaky things about cataracts are that they don’t hurt and they develop gradually. So, you may not notice them. Some signs are blurred or double vision, a feeling that there is a film over your eye, an inaccurate impression of light (appears dim or extra bright), and the appearance of a milky or yellowish spot on your pupil.
You may not be aware of vision changes, though. Fortunately, we test for cataracts during your comprehensive eye examinations. Another way we can discover a problem is if we’ve changed your prescription and it doesn’t seem to improve your vision. If you think you’ve experienced this effect, give us a call and we’ll check you out.
An annual survey conducted by the American Optometric Association (AOA) shows that most people now understand the importance of regular comprehensive eye exams.
The survey also shows that habits, opinions, and level of knowledge about eye care vary from generation to generation. For instance, the 2011 survey found that “younger generations are the most diligent about following their doctor’s recommendations for wear and care of lenses” whereas baby boomers have room for improvement. Who would have thought?
All ages are experiencing increased negative side effects from using technology for work and play although younger people reported higher incidences. Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) is linked to light sensitivity, fatigue, neck and back pain, dry eye, and general eye strain.
Compared with older generations, younger people are “nearly twice as likely to consider eye glasses a fashion accessory.” They are more likely to have seasonal eye allergies and less likely to understand the links between vision problems and diabetes and glaucoma.
Younger women share their cosmetics more than older women do. Age may bring more awareness and understanding of the ways bacteria is spread, leading to eye infections.
One easy way to raise overall awareness of eye health across the generations is to share knowledge intergenerationally. Tell Grandpa what you know about eye care. And maybe he’ll tell you a thing or two that could help preserve your eyesight until you reach his age and beyond.
Remember that we are here as an educational resource for you and your family. Give us a call if you’d like more information.
It’s a big word for tiny floaters, those specks that people begin to notice as they grow older. Sometimes they appear to be tiny insects or cobwebs drifting round the visual area.
If they were stationary we wouldn’t notice them because the eyes and related neurons that provide information to the brain would adapt to their presence and not send a signal of recognition to the brain.
Generally, floaters cause no ill effects. But if you suddenly experience flashing lights and a shower of floaters, it could signal retinal detachment. In that case, give us an immediate call.
Posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) occurs when the clear substance called the vitreous gel pulls away from the retina, where the nerve cells perceive light signals.
When vitreous detachment occurs, as it does during the aging process, matter can float in the gel causing an impression of mist or cobwebs. These are called floaters. Usually, they do no damage and become less noticeable after awhile.
As always, though, we encourage you to call if you have concerns about changes in your vision.