Monday, December 7, 2015

Your Aging Eyes and Vision

As we age, in the same way as you start to notice other physical changes, you can have normal age-related eye changes that do not indicate a disease process, such as presbyopia, but other changes can occur like cataracts, macular degeneration, and glaucoma.

Around the age of 40, you will start to notice that focusing up close becomes more difficult. This is called presbyopia and it occurs because the lens inside the eye starts to harden. You may find that you can compensate by holding things further away, but eventually you will need reading, computer, or progressive lenses. You can also wear multifocal contact lenses and even refractive surgery in the form of monovision corrects this normal change in your vision.

Cataracts are very common and can be corrected with cataract surgery. However, diseases like macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma can cause severe vision loss and need to be treated early by your eye doctor. Cataracts are considered a normal aging change because the majority of people over 65 have some form of a cataract. A cataract is when the natural lens of the eye becomes progressively opaque, which causes your vision to become blurry and feel like you are constantly looking through a foggy window.  Surgery is very successful and vision loss from a cataract is generally completely restored. There are many options for intraocular lens implants during surgery so be sure to discuss these options with your eye doctor and cataract surgeon.

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of age-related blindness in the United States. There are two forms of macular degeneration, wet and dry. Both can cause serious vision loss. It is the degeneration of your macula, which is the area of your retina responsible for sharp, central vision. The cause is thought to be a combination of aging, UV, and genetics. Many studies have been done to show that supplements can slow the degeneration process but be sure to talk to your doctor first before taking anything.

Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve that causes progressive visual field or peripheral vision loss. Your risk for developing glaucoma increases each decade after you turn 40. It has few or no early symptoms so it can go undetected and cause irreversible damage to your optic if it is not found early by your eye doctor. There are many different variations of glaucoma, each having a different cause, however genetics plays a large role in each of them.

Along with the aforementioned diseases, aging results in structural changes in your eye such as a reduced pupil size, decreased tear production resulting in dry eye, decreased contrast sensitivity, and decreased laxity of the eyelids.

It is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and see your eye doctor for annual exams for early detection of these age related eye changes and diseases.


Dr. Melanie Langford
Dr. Melanie Langford practices full scope optometry at Family Vision Care and she enjoys working with patients of all ages. She is licensed in the treatment and management of ocular disease with therapeutic pharmaceutical agents, primary open angle glaucoma, and lacrimal irrigation and dilation. 
Family Vision Care
4310 Genesee Avenue,Suite 101
San Diego, CA 92117
Phone: 858-560-5181

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