Ageing has remained one of the most significant factors for the onset of eye disorders for a very long time. With the course of time, the human body can result in loss of the ability of eye cells to function properly, leading to numerous diseases. Below we mention five common eye diseases occurring as a result of the ageing process-
Age-related Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration (AMRD), is the ageing of the outermost layer of the retina, mainly found in adults over the age of fifty. At its most devastating, ARMD results in severe visual impairment and often overwhelming challenges to the quality of life. It is the cause of severe visual impairment in at least 2 percent of Americans over the age sixty-five. There are two basic forms of ARMD- the dry form of ARMD which features slow progressive, degenerative changes in the retinal cells and a wet, or exudative, form of ARMD is a faster, more aggressive process that can have a much greater impact on vision.
ARMD affects an estimated 3.5 million older Americans on regular basis and major risk factors include ageing, hereditary history, cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, excess exposure to sunlight etc.
Glaucoma, also referred as ‘silent thief of vision’ is one of the most troubling conditions affecting the eye and a leading cause of blindness resulting in approximately 12% of the cases of blindness in the United States on annual basis. Glaucoma is not simply a disease but a collection of eye problems that elevates the pressure within the eye, resulting in damage to the optic nerve and serious impediments to vision. The onset of glaucoma is very gradual (sometimes ranging over several years) and generally without any occurrence of symptoms. In fact, one of the first signs of trouble includes loss of peripheral vision which occurs much later after the development of glaucoma.
There are two basic forms of glaucoma- open-angle glaucoma and close-angle glaucoma. Because glaucoma is a diverse collection of disorders with a common end-result (i.e. damage to the optic nerve and loss of vision), there is no preferred form of treatment. However, the objective of each treatment is to lower the intraocular pressure within the eyes in order to prevent the nerve damage. Regular preventive treatments include antiglaucoma eye drops such as pilocarpine, propine, beta-blockers etc. Other forms of medications also include lasers and surgeries.
As per the American Academy of Ophthalmology, low vision is defined as the absence of clear vision in eyes, which is generally not reparable by ordinary eyeglasses, contact lenses or intraocular lens implants. Low vision is one of the greatest factors impairing the quality of life amongst the aged. Approximately twenty million people over the age of forty have a serious vision impairment, while ninety percent of these have residual vision. Most common symptoms of low vision include decreased side vision (also called as peripheral vision), loss of colour vision, ability to adjust to light, glare or contrast and even blindness. Low vision may have a profound impact on not only the individual but also his family members. It has also been considered to be the leading catalyst for non-productivity and lack of motivation. While low vision cannot be treated, there are various ‘low-vision devices’ that can help you cope up with this loss. Most common devices include implantable miniature telescopes, bioptic telescopic lenses, electronic magnifiers, hand-held magnifiers etc.
Although cataracts are probably the most talked about eye problem today and a leading cause of eye-related problems as we age, they are also one of the most widely misunderstood disorders of all time. Typically, the symptoms of cataract do not include difficulty in reading, pain in eyes or occasional feeling of having something in the eye. Instead, symptoms of cataract more commonly include-
• Impaired distance vision
• Blurred vision
• Frequent changes in eyeglass prescriptions
• Poor night vision
• Appearance of a halo around lights
• Double vision in one eye
A typical cataract that occurs as a result of ageing is called a nuclear sclerotic cataract, which is caused by normal eye lens ages and the nucleus enlarges, consequently leading to change in the protein structure. People with this type of cataract experience difficulty seeing at a distance, along with other symptoms as mentioned above. Studies show that cataract is found more commonly in women than men. Further, having diabetes, hereditary history of cataracts or intake of excessive corticosteroids also increases the chance of development of cataract. The best treatment of cataracts is educating yourself of the problem and its effect on vision. One can also prevent cataract through the intake of vitamins, improving lighting at home, wearing sunglasses on sunny days etc.
Diabetic Eye Disease
One of the leading causes of death in the world, diabetes has a great impact on almost all organs of the body, including the eyes. Diabetic eye disease or diabetic retinopathy is a debilitating condition of the retinal cells ultimately leading to blindness. In fact, among Americans of working age, diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness. The classic symptoms of this disease include increased thirst, frequent urination, weight loss, and lack of energy.
Although most people with diabetes eventually develop some degree of diabetic retinopathy, some have relatively minor trouble while others may end up with severe impairment. However, blindness may occur in extremely rare cases only. By far, the most significant risk factor is the incubation of diabetes in the body. Normally, fluctuations in blood sugar can often cause intermittent spells of blurred vision, difficulty with night vision and trouble reading. Apart from these, while diagnosing diabetic retinopathy, it is also essential to consider other medical problems including hypertension, kidney diseases, allergies in the eye, hereditary succession etc. It is necessary to consult a medical professional in case of successive occurrence of any of these symptoms for a long time.