Thank you to Joan Micucci, Certified Ophthalmic Medical Technologist from Matossian Eye Associates for a very informative session on our eyes as they age. She covered different aspects of 3 common eye-related problems: cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. While none of these issues can be prevented, early detection can help limit severe damage and preserve your eyesight as you age.
Cataracts are the most common cause of reversible vision loss and often manifest in older people. Cataracts are caused by a clouding of the natural clear lens and oftentimes compared to frosty or fogged windows. Some symptoms of cataracts include glare (especially at night), decrease in color vision, and adjusting your daily life to deal with blurry or tinted vision. Generally, cataracts are associated with age, but diabetes, previous eye injury or surgery, or prolonged steroid use cause cause cataracts to form earlier in life. Cataracts are removed through a simple outpatient surgery that involves removing the clouded lens and replacing it with an intraocular lens. While there are different lens types available, it is common for people to need basic reading glasses after the surgery.
Glaucoma is a more serious issue that can cause blindness if left untreated. It is also the leading cause of blindness in the United States. Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve in which fluid builds up and causes pressure or “cupping” of the optic disc. While family history is the primary risk for glaucoma, age, hypertension, sleep apnea, migraines, and prolonged steroid use. Glaucoma is most commonly treated with eye drops to control the pressure, but cold laser surgery or the implant of a stent during cataract surgery cause also help promote the flow of fluid away from the optic nerve and reduce pressure. Unfortunately, glaucoma can not be cured and constant management of the pressure is required.
Macular degeneration occurs when the macular tissue deteriorates. While people who suffer from macular degeneration lose their center vision, their peripheral vision often remains intact. This is caused by yellow deposits called drusen that form in the macular tissue. Risk factors include age, race (especially Caucasian women), family history, smoking, obesity, and heart disease. While 90% of macular degeneration cases are consider dry and develop slowly, a more rapid and severe form called wet occurs due to leaking blood vessels. Wet degeneration is most commonly treated with injections, while dry degeneration is primarily treated by Omega-3 nutritional supplements, such as fish oil.
As with many medical conditions, early detection is key so please visit your eye-care provider regularly. For more information, please visit Matossian Eye Associates at https://www.matossianeye.com/ or contact them at email@example.com. For a copy of the presentation, please visit https://www.njstatelib.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/The-Aging-Eye.pdf. For a copy of the handout, please visit https://www.njstatelib.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/The-Aging-Eye-Handout.pdf.