September Is Healthy Aging Month

September 5, 2018

Aging. It happens inevitably, although most of us don't like to hear about it and some of us don't want to admit it.

 

Many eye diseases become more prevalent with time, and it is important to recognize the proper screening schedule and symptoms of eye disease in order to prevent vision loss and optimize vision.

 

The big three diseases eye doctors worry about, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and cataracts, tend to arrive after age 40.  National recommendations are for adults to have a screening eye exam by an ophthalmologist around age 40, then regularly thereafter depending upon risk level.  The prevalence of eye disease becomes more common after age 65 and it is usually important to have a yearly eye exam at that point.

 

Cataracts can cause glare at night while driving, and hazy, foggy, or muted vision during the day.  Macular degeneration will cause loss or distortion of central vision, and glaucoma loss of peripheral vision.  Cataracts can be readily treated with outpatient surgery, but macular degeneration and glaucoma need to be caught BEFORE they are symptomatic to prevent permanent loss of vision.

 

Other types of eye disease, such as dry eye, blepharitis and floaters are common over time and some can be readily treated.  People who are taking certain medications (plaquenil, amiodarone, ethambutol, prednisone, gilenya, and others) need to be monitored for eye complications of these medications, and diabetics need to have a yearly eye exam to detect the presence of and treat diabetic retinopathy that can occur with elevated blood sugar levels (Hemoglobin A1C level > 6.5%).

 

The good thing about aging though, is that the eyes can continue to see well into a person's nineties or even past 100!  It is disease that causes vision loss, not age itself.  Many of these diseases can be prevented or treated if caught early enough, especially with many of the treatment options available today.  So if you haven't recently - see your eye doctor!  You've got to keep those eyes working for a long time, its the only pair you've got!

 

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