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Our society is built on the ability to see, vision is the most dominant of our senses and has a fundamental role in all aspects and stages of life. It is an essential part of social and interpersonal interaction. A very good part of the communication between human beings is carried out in a non-verbal way, the information is transmitted to a large extent through non-verbal signals, such as gestures and facial expressions.
According to the World Health Organization, more than 2,200 million people worldwide have some type of visual impairment.
Eye diseases can have different reasons such as infection, caused by viruses, bacteria, or fungi, they can be due to factors of genetic origin, such as myopia or hyperopia, or due to deterioration of ocular tissues due to the passage of time and age.
In this post, God Service Eye Clinic has suggested the most common visual diseases in older adults.
Most common eye diseases in the elderly
You’ve probably noticed that your vision has changed since turning 40. You might require glasses to see up close, have a harder time adjusting to glare, or have trouble telling some colours apart. Age-related changes like these are common. The risk of developing the most prevalent age-related eye diseases and conditions increases with age; we list them below.
Presbyopia is the gradual loss of the visual ability to focus on nearby objects. It is due to the progressive ageing of the eye and the decrease in the elasticity of the crystalline lens. It is a natural part of ageing and usually appears between the ages of 40 and 45, worsening until around age 65.
Presbyopia has an easy solution, go to an ophthalmologist to use glasses to carry out tasks such as reading or being in front of a smartphone, tablet or computer screens.
A cataract is a progressive opacity of the lens, usually transparent, that does not allow light to pass through it. Normally, most cataracts develop slowly, so they do not affect vision from the beginning. Seeing through an eye with a cataract is similar to looking at a landscape through a fogged window.
At first, more lighting and the use of glasses may help improve vision with cataracts, but the deterioration will increase. Cataracts are the most common cause of reversible blindness in the population since today the results of cataract surgery are very positive. The procedure is secure and efficient.
Glaucoma is a group of conditions that damage the optic nerve due to an increase in intraocular pressure, thus hindering the ability to transmit visual information to the brain.
It is also known as “silent blindness” since many forms of glaucoma have no warning signs. The effect comes on so gradually that you may not notice a significant change until late in the disease. Glaucoma comes in two forms:
- It is the most prevalent type of the disease, open-angle glaucoma. The trabecular meshwork is partially blocked, but the drainage angle between the cornea and the iris is still open. As a result, the pressure inside the eye gradually rises, harming the optic nerve.
- Angle-closure glaucoma develops when the iris protrudes forward and narrows or completely obstructs the drainage angle that is formed by the cornea and iris. The pressure builds up as a result of the fluid being unable to flow through the eye. An emergency situation exists with acute angle-closure glaucoma.
Regular eye exams with measurements of eye pressure are crucial because glaucoma-related vision damage is irreversible. This will enable early detection and appropriate treatment of the condition. Loss of vision can be prevented or delayed if it is discovered early.
Diabetes-related eye complications are a common occurrence. Anyone with type 1 and 2 diabetes could develop this disorder, and the chances increase the longer you have had the disease and the less your blood glucose is controlled.
The best way to prevent vision loss due to this visual disease is to control diabetes, eat a good diet, exercise and take medication properly. If you have diabetes, make an appointment with your ophthalmologist to have a dilated eye exam every year, even if you think your vision is good.
It is the eye disease that most frequently causes severe vision loss and blindness in people over 50 years of age. It occurs when a degenerative process affects the macula, the central area of the retina.
Age-related macular degeneration can appear in one eye first and then in both eyes, or in both eyes at the same time. Vision loss is usually central, with peripheral vision remaining.
Early detection by your ophthalmologist and self-care measures can delay vision loss caused by macular degeneration.
The retina is a light-sensitive sheet located at the back of the eye and its cells are responsible for capturing images. Retinal detachment is an emergency situation in which a layer of retinal tissue separates from the layer of blood vessels that supply it with oxygen and nutrients. Retinal detachment is often detected as flashes of light and floaters in the vision.
It is a serious vision problem that is estimated to affect 1 in 10,000 people a year, of both sexes. In certain cases, it can appear in both eyes.
To prevent retinal detachment, an annual eye exam is recommended. In addition, people with nearsightedness, a family history, or a retinal detachment in one eye should have regular comprehensive eye exams to detect possible changes in the vitreous or retina.
Prevention is essential
Science and medical research have made it possible to advance very significantly in almost all the treatments that treat these visual conditions, making them safe and effective, with different procedures existing to treat each of these visual diseases. However, let’s not forget that prevention is always better than cure.
According to the World Health Organization, 80% of visual impairment worldwide can be prevented or cured with early detection of the condition.
Acquiring the habit of visiting our specialist in ophthalmology on a regular basis and from an early age, is a fundamental measure to keep track of the state of our vision and avoid serious problems that prevent us from having healthy ageing.