How does aging affect your vision?Your vision changes as you age. By the time you reach age 40, you’re more likely to start exhibiting symptoms of sightthreatening eye conditions.
Cataract. Cataract is the most common age-related eye condition. It happens when the normally clear lens of the eye becomes cloudy, which makes it hard to comfortably read, drive a car, recognize faces and see at night. Sometimes, patients see bright colors as faded or yellow-tinged and may find themselves frequently changing their eyeglasses or contact lens prescription.
Glaucoma. Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that is often linked to an abnormal and chronic increase in eye pressure. It typically occurs when the mesh-like channel where the fluid flows in and out of the eyes gets blocked. The pressure builds up, eventually damaging the optic nerve. The optic nerve has the important task of bringing the information from the eye to the brain so any damage to it can lead to blindness.
Retinal problems. Often called age-related macular degeneration or AMD, macular degeneration causes a slow yet painless loss of central vision. This happens because the macula, the part of the retina responsible for seeing fine details and recognizing colors, has deteriorated, so a patient with this condition can see the outline of a person’s face, but not their expression.
The retina is filled with clear jelly-like fluid called the vitreous gel. As you age, the gel may become more liquid and shrink; this causes the retina to pull away from the back of the eye and create a tear. The condition is called retinal detachment. Once this happens, the retina loses its supply of oxygen and nourishment, causing the nerve cells inside the retina to die and stop functioning. It is considered a serious eye condition that requires immediate medical attention because it can cause permanent blindness.
In diabetic retinopathy, too much sugar in the blood blocks the tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina, decreasing the blood and oxygen supply that goes into the eye. In response to that, the eye attempts to grow new blood vessels. But these new blood vessels don’t develop properly, so they are weak and can leak fluid or blood easily into the retina. This leakage can cause complications that can lead to bleeding in the eye and blindness.
According to Asian Eye Institute retina and vitreous disease specialist, uveitis and ocular immunologist Dr. Cheryl Arcinue, annual comprehensive eye exams ensure that your eyes are healthy and help prevent vision loss later in life.
“A lot of these are eye problems can lead to blindness and usually have no obvious signs in the beginning. This means that you can be losing your vision and not know it. By seeing your eye doctor every year, the doctor can monitor your eye condition, detect an eye condition early and prevent potential eye damage,” Arcinue says.
A comprehensive eye exam involves two important steps— measuring the eye grade and checking if it has changed from the last checkup and if the patient needs a new pair of eyeglasses; and checking the front and back parts of the eyes for any irregularities. In some cases, it involves eye dilation, where eye drops are used to enlarge the pupil to gain a better view of the back part of the eyes.
Arcinue adds: “People with lifestyle diseases like diabetes and hypertension have to be more careful. They can protect themselves and their eyes by eating healthy, exercising and, most especially, by monitoring and maintaining their blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol level at a normal level.” (Sources: mayoclinic.org, allaboutvision.com, aao.org)
(Story/Photos by: Charizze Henson)