These Seemingly Harmless Symptoms Could be a Sign of Serious Eye Diseases
Keep Your Eye out For These Symptoms
Many of us have come to expect blurred vision and eye pain as consequences of age and daily computer use, but these and other symptoms may signify the onset of a serious eye disease. Signs of ocular disease are often masked by those of common eye conditions. One might prevent permanent vision loss or slow the disease’s progression by recognizing possible warning signs and seeking diagnosis early. The following information concerns three of the most common age-related eye conditions: Age-related Macular Degeneration, Presbyopia, and cataracts.
Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is one of the most common eye diseases for aging adults, and the early signs are not always as noticeable as one may expect. Macular degeneration is a disease of the central part of the retina, or macula. This area is responsible for maintaining clear central vision, which is essential for driving, reading, and other daily activities. Besides age, some risk factors for AMD include smoking, poor diet, hypertension, obesity, excessive sunlight exposure, and having a family history of this condition.
Never Ignore these AMD Warning Signs:
- Blurred Vision
- Normally straight lines look wavy, distorted
- Blind spots in central field of vision
There are no treatments specific to AMD, but an early diagnosis can help slow its progression. Changes in diet, UV eye protection, blood pressure medication, and regular vision screenings can help elderly patients retain their central vision longer. Low vision devices can help AMD sufferers maintain their independence, and many patients adapt by learning techniques to use their peripheral vision more effectively.
Presbyopia or Initial Sign of Cataracts?
Cataracts are another concern for the elderly, but the first signs of a cataract may overlap the symptoms of Presbyopia, the loss of focus for both near and distant vision. The lens in a young healthy eye is usually clear and flexible, allowing sharp vision at all distances. As one ages, his or her lens may become too rigid to maintain proper focus, which leads to Presbyopia. Unfortunately, Presbyopia often precedes cataracts, which are milky or cloudy lenses. Early cataract symptoms include:
- Blurred vision
- Double vision, normally unilateral
- Impaired night vision
- Loss of contrast, diminished colors
- Light, glare sensitivity
- More frequent eyeglass prescription changes
The standard cataract treatment is laser or traditional surgery, during which the surgeon replaces the clouded lens with a new artificial one. Most eye doctors will delay surgery until it is absolutely necessary, but one can slow cataract progression by making diet and lifestyle changes similar to those listed for AMD. In the meantime, an ophthalmologist will prescribe bifocal lenses for the patient’s Presbyopia and schedule more frequent eye exams.