It’s true that vision changes as your eyes as you get older, but these changes do not have to compromise your lifestyle. Understanding what to expect and when to seek professional care are vital steps to safeguarding your precious vision.
Health problems affecting other parts of your body can affect your eyesight as well. Individuals with diabetes or hypertension, or taking prescription medications with eye-related side effects are at greatest risk for developing vision problems. Regular eye examinations are even more important as you reach 50 or above.
The following are some age-related eye and vision problems of which you should be aware of:
Age-related macular degeneration
(AMD) is an eye disease of the macula, the very center of your vision corresponding to “looking straight ahead.” Although small, the macula is the part of the retina that allows us to see fine details and color. Individuals with AMD lose this ability, either slowly (dry) or rapidly (wet). As a result, activities like reading, driving, watching TV and recognizing faces are compromised. Fortunately, peripheral vision which we rely upon for movement and orientation, remains intact.
result from cloudy, hazy or opaque areas of the normally clear lens of the eye. If cataracts are developing, the amount and quality of light reaching the retina is distorted and altered. In addition to needing more light, colors appear dull and glare increases. When a cataract diminishes the quality of the eyesight, it should be removed surgically and replaced by an artificial lens implant.
is a progressive disease of the optic nerve which can result in blindness. Regular vision examinations determine the susceptibility based upon hereditary, health, intraocular pressures and appearance of the optic nerve. People with family histories of glaucoma, diabetes, and high myopia are at higher risk.
are small semi-transparent particles that float within the vitreous, the clear jelly-like fluid that fills the inner portion of the eye. Floaters often look like specks, strands, or cobwebs in front of your eyes. Sometimes flashes or streaks of light may appear from the vitreous shrinking or pulling on the retina. This is known a Posterior Vitreous Detachment, which can cause a “tug” on the retina. Sudden onset of floaters, flashes or streaks of light may be symptoms of vitreous or retinal detachment and requires immediate examination by your optometrist to determine if what you are seeing is harmless, or the symptom of a more serious problem.
is a condition of the front of the eye caused by insufficient tears and/or poor quality tears. Dry eyes often causes discomfort, burning, tearing, itching, or a foreign body sensation in the eye. Clear, consistent vision depends upon proper tear production. Dry eyes are a common and often chronic problem, particularly in older adults.
As you age, driving
a car may become increasingly difficult. Age-related changes, eye disease and medications can compromise driving ability, even before you notice symptoms. Many older people struggle to judge distances, especially at night. Bright sunlight and headlights of oncoming cars increasingly impair vision, safety and security. Smaller pupil sizes, cloudy lenses inside the eye and slower reaction time can compromise driving ability. Use these tips to stay safe when driving, especially at night:
-Maintain clean windshields, inner and outer
-Wear appropriate, up-to-date glasses with anti-reflective coatings (allowing 99% of light to enter the eye).
-Increase the distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you.
-Wear large protective sunglasses without wide temples during daytime driving.
Computers and Vision
Computers put a tremendous strain on your eye muscles yet it is impossible to avoid using computers, cell phones, tablets and other hand-held devices. It is estimated that over 175 million working Americans suffer from computer eyestrain. If you spend more than two hours each day in front of a computer screen, you likely experience some symptoms of computer vision syndrome (CVS).
Symptoms of CVS include:
-Headache or eyestrain
-Dry, burning eyes
-Neck and shoulder pain
Get your eyes checked because even a small, uncorrected prescription can cause eyestrain and decrease productivity. Computer glasses are not
the same as reading glasses. If you habitually wear a distance/near progressive lens, the area devoted to the computer distance is infinitely small and often necessitates distorting head and neck posture to see the screen. The result is muscular-skeletal stress and discomfort resulting in soreness and reduced efficiency. We use a Prio Vision Tester to determine the most accurate prescription for your computer eyewear. The appropriate computer prescription is measured at the distance measured from your eyes to the middle of your computer screen. Generally computer glasses are prescribed as a bifocal, single vision or a Gradal RD lens by Zeiss. The Gradal RD is a progressive lens tailored for indoor professionals. It is ideal for computer users, doctors, dentists, craftsmen, artists and lawyers who have high demand requirements for their intermediate and near vision. Gradal RD is engineered for Room Distance and offers superior visual comfort with immediate adaptation, eliminating the need for frequent head movements.
Take a 20/20 “eye break”. Every 20 minutes, rest your focusing muscles by taking a 20 second break. Look into the distance, away from your computer and desk for 20 seconds.
How Can We Protect Our Eyes?
We can age gracefully by taking care of our eyes. Our doctors can make recommendations at your annual eye health examinations such as:
-Early detection of eye disease
-Prescription lenses prescribed for specific tasks
-Environmental protective lenses such as polarized or Corning lenses
-Nutrition protection to reduce the impact and progression eye diseases like macular degeneration and cataracts
Do not take your eyes for granted. Respect yourself by taking care of your eyes like you take care of everything else that is important to you.
Life Is Worth Seeing
Drs. Jacalyn Ely, Sanford Cohen and Fawziya Mirza, optometrists, opened Maple Lawn Eye Care Center at the Midtown Medical Arts Building at 7625 Maple Lawn Boulevard in Fulton, MD. Specialties include contact lenses, low vision rehabilitation services, developmental vision evaluations, orthokeratology (Overnight Corneal Reshaping) and computer vision exams.
By Maple Lawn Eye Care Center
September 15, 2013