As we age, the composition, elasticity and connecting fibers in our eyes begin to fail. Many age-related problems can be corrected with treatment and/or surgery, but there are also a number of preventative measures that can be taken to help protect your eyes from the denigration of age.
    Below are five of the most common age-related eye diseases, their symptoms and treatments.

    1. Macular Degeneration

    The small, center portion of your retina is called the macula. Once the macula begins to degenerate, it can quickly lead to blindness. Blurred vision, both up close and far away, is one sign of macular degeneration. Considering that the macula is in the center of your retina, it stands to reason that a blurry or dark spot appears in the center of your vision during the early stages of macular degeneration. Additionally, color blindness and blind spots in your vision may occur, and “straight lines may appear wavy.”

    The FDA approves these treatments:

    • Laser treatment – Vessels are cauterized to prevent blood flow, as pressure from blood inside the retina is the primary cause of macular degeneration.
    • Visudyne – A drug treatment, Visudyne is injected into the bloodstream, then the doctor shines a laser light into the patient’s eye. The light activates the Visudyne.
    • Lucentis, Macugen, Eylea – These three drugs are designed to “inhibit the action of VEGF in wet (neovascular) AMD.”
    • 2. Cataracts

      The lens in your eye is made of tissue. When that tissue is damaged and scars or begins to clump together as a result of age-related stress, a cloudy coloring appears on the lens.

      The Mayo Clinic’s list of cataract symptoms include blurred vision, difficulty seeing at night or in low light, the appearance of halos around light sources, double vision in a single eye, and a yellowing of the eyes.

      Age-Related Eye Diseases

      There are a variety of treatments for early-stage cataracts. The National Eye Institute suggests a new eyeglass prescription, non-glare sunglasses or use of a magnifying glass. Surgery is the only means of reversing the effects of cataracts.

      3. Glaucoma

      Damage to the optic nerve is the strict definition of glaucoma. There are two kinds and both have different symptoms: open-angle glaucoma and angle-closure glaucoma. Symptoms may not surface until the complete onset of glaucoma.

      Glaucoma symptoms include:

      • Severe pain in the eye or forehead
      • Redness of the eye
      • Decreased vision or blurred vision
      • Seeing rainbows or halos
      • Headache

      Symptoms can also include nausea and vomiting.

      Treatments are all preventative to prevent further loss of sight, and include pharmaceuticals, laser treatment, and invasive surgery. Any sight lost to glaucoma cannot be regained.

      4. Ocular Hypertension

      A precursor to glaucoma, ocular hypertension is a buildup of intra-ocular pressure (IOP). It is this pressure that produces optic nerve damage. There are no symptoms of ocular hypertension.

      Treatments include eye drops, pharmaceuticals and surgery to relieve the pressure.

      5. Retinal Detachment

      When the retina shifts in relation to the optic nerve and the lens, the result is retinal detachment. Typically the result of an accident, retinal detachment can lead to permanent loss of sight if not treated promptly.

      Symptoms appear rapidly, and include shadows, blind spots and blurred vision. There are a variety of treatments, including:

      • Laser surgery (photocoagulation) – An ophthalmologist uses a laser to make small burns around the retinal tear.
      • Freezing treatment (cryopexy) – A freezing probe that seals the tear.
      • Scleral buckle – A piece of silicone sponge, rubber or semi-hard plastic used to close the tear.
      • Pneumatic retinopexy – A micro balloon expands the retina to its normal shape, and then the eye’s sub-retinal fluid refills the space and closes the tear.
      • Vitrectomy – The vitreous gel is removed from the eye and a surgical repair is performed either with a laser or manually.

      Whether or not you’ve experienced the symptoms of any of these common conditions, it’s extremely important to schedule routine examinations with your eye doctor to identify any issues before they cost you your sight! For more information about these or any other eye conditions, or to schedule an appointment, please contact our office.

    Posted August 31, 2017 by Silverstein Eye Centers
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