As we age so do our eyes so it is important to take precautions to avoid certain eye problems. A common eye problem that accompanies aging is macular degeneration. This eye problem is caused by deterioration of the retinal tissues lining the back of the eye. This is a chronic eye disease with a multitude of evolving forms of treatment. It can give a person blurry vision and blind spots, and involves the central area of vision only. Unfortunately, this small area called the macula is vital for all detailed vision functions including reading. Since most of the retina remains healthy magnification aids can often be used to extend reading images onto the remaining healthy tissue. There are two different kinds of macular degeneration, the dry form and the wet form. The dry form of macular degeneration is less sight threatening and precedes development of wet macular degeneration.
Once macular degeneration transforms into the wet variety it can progress rapidly and cause serious vision complications. This can give you visual distortions such as seeing straight lines being crooked or wavy in appearance. You may notice objects looking very small or being farther away then they really are. You may notice loss of your central vision with blurry spots.
Evidence for nutritional intervention in preventing and treating macular degeneration continues to grow. Low dietary intake of the carotenids lutein and zeaxanthin are associated with an increased risk of age-related macular degeneration and may retard the development and progression of macular degeneration. Lutein and zeaxanthin have high levels in Broccoli, corn, squash,peas, and green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale. Foods with a high glycemic index (sugar rich simple carbohydrate foods that raise blood sugar rapidly) also increase the risk of macular degeneration -eating oatmeal may be good for more than just your heart. Vitamin deficiencies of E,D,and C seem to increase the risk of macular degeneration but vitamin A, especially in smokers may increase your risk for macular degeneration. Omega-3 fatty acids found in cold water fish contain docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and may act in a preventative manner for macular degeneration.Coenzyme Q10 and acetyl-L-carnitine supplementation is a potential early intervention. UV and blue light increase risk for macular degeneration so sunwear should start early for children.
If you have dry macular degeneration you may notice blurriness in the words that you read, less color in certain objects and have a harder time recognizing peoples faces. Your vision may start to seem hazy and you will have the need for brighter light. With both kinds of macular degeneration, it may only effect one of the eyes. Sometimes people don’t realize that they have it with the eye that does not have it making up for the eye that is effected.
Another problem with your eyes as you age is cataracts. Cataracts cloud the eye and are a common type of eye problem. There are three basic types of cataracts that you should be aware of which are nuclear sclerosis, cortical and sub-capsular. The nuclear sclerosis cataract forms throughout the lens as a gradual darkening and discoloration. A sub-capsular cataract is at the back of the lens close to the line of sight and may cause vision loss much faster than other types of cataracts. Cortical cataracts start in the cortex of the lens. If you have a cataract you should not be overly concerned, they can be successfully removed by having outpatient surgery and are one of the most successful surgical procedures done today. Artificial lenses are implanted, often with no stitches involved in an outpatient procedure.
Another eye problem you may encounter as you grow older is called dry eye syndrome. As we age, we do not produce as many tears as before. It is known to cause discomfort and pain and can result in serious vision loss in more extreme cases. Treatment is available with a multitude of options. You do not have to suffer from the chronic burning and stinging that accompanies dry eyes. If should have your eyes dilated every one to two years by your optometrist to check for these eye problems and other diseases that can compromise your vision irreversibly. Prevention is the best gift you can give your family and yourself.
David H. Kisling, O.D., A.B.D.A.
Fort Collins Eye Doctors
Fort Collins Contact Lens
Vision Service Plan Provider