As you age, unfortunately the body doesn’t function as well as it did in its younger days. The eyes, as part of the body, are no exception. It is a scary prospect that you could be left blind by one of the aging eyesight problems or at least left with severely restricted sight.
So much for the golden years!
If you don’t already have one of these eyesight problems, there are steps you can take now to minimize the risk (although it may be unavoidable if genetics are involved).
Even if you do have one of these aging eyesight problems already, you can sometimes do something to stop the condition getting worse or, depending on the condition you have, eradicate it all together.
I give a really brief overview here of what are the 3 most common of the aging eyesight problems, what the symptoms are and what can be done when the condition is diagnosed.
This is caused by a build-up of pressure in the eye. The eye is no longer draining the fluid it has produced as well as it used to and this creates this build-up.
This in turn puts pressure on and can cause damage to the optic nerve, retina and the lens.
There are two types:
The first type (open angle) starts as a slow build up of pressure. There may not be any symptoms at first. That is why regular check-ups are important with this condition. But as the pressure builds, this could lead to headaches, peripheral vision and later tunnel vision.
The other type (close angle) has a quick rise in pressure. You would know quickly if you had this type of glaucoma as the symptoms would soon be apparent. These include red swollen eyes, swollen eyelids or even vision loss. So, with this type of glaucoma, immediate assistance from an eye doctor is required as it will develop rapidly otherwise.
Regular eye check-ups with your eye doctor are recommended to pick up glaucoma at an early stage. As there are often no symptoms with close angle glaucoma at the initial stages, it can only be diagnosed by the eye doctor.
In order to minimize the risk as far as possible of developing this condition, a healthy lifestyle is recommended to ensure good blood flow to all parts of the body.
An anti-inflammatory diet would also be a good choice to ensure as far as possible the proper functioning of the eyes.
If you have the condition, it can be treatable with eye drops, surgery or laser treatment to stop pressure building up but these treatments can’t restore your eyesight once the damage has been done.
So, the important thing is getting the condition diagnosed early enough so that no permanent damage has already been done.
These cause a clouding of the eye’s lens. This is due to changes to the tissue (that could be as a result of aging, injury or diabetes). This is probably the most well known of the aging eyesight problems.
If left untreated, cataracts can lead to vision loss and blindness. They don’t tend to get worse quickly though.
There are ways to reduce the risk of getting cataracts in the first place (although they are unable to eliminate the risk completely). These include a healthy diet (you could consider certain supplements as well), giving up smoking and avoiding UV light by wearing sunglasses. You can read my post on the best sunglasses here.
Cataracts are usually treatable by way of surgery (the affected lens is removed and replaced with a synthetic one) or eye drops that dissolve the cataract. If I had the choice, I think I would opt for the eye drops!
3. Age Related Macula Degeneration (AMD)
The macular at the back of the eye is responsible for the central vision. If this starts to degenerate (usually at the age of 50 and over), it leads to vision loss. While the condition will not lead to blindness, it can make it very hard to see. Both eyes or just one eye could be affected.
There are two types. ‘dry AMD’ which develops slowly (could be over years) or ‘wet AMD’ which is the more aggressive form and this develops at a rapid rate (it could be in just a matter of a few weeks). ‘Dry AMD’ is the more common of the two.
It is not known what causes it. It may be down to smoking. It may be hereditary and has been linked with high blood pressure.
Symptoms of AMD include: changes in vision or when reading print, straight lines appear wavy.
A healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables may minimize the risk of getting AMD but there is no definite link between the condition and a poor diet.
There is no treatment for ‘dry AMD’. For ‘wet AMD’ it might be slowed down with injections into the eye or photodynamic therapy.
As a result of American studies into possible treatments for those already with AMD (these studies were called AREDS and AREDS2), the following supplement formula was recommended for slowing down the progression of the condition:
- 500 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C
- 270mg of vitamin E
- 10mg lutein
- 2mg zeaxanthin
- 25mg or 80mg zinc as zinc oxide
- 2mg copper as cupric oxide.
If you wish to read more in depth into this study and supplements to take, check out this link.
Healthy Lifestyle and Regular Check-ups
So having had a quick look at these three aging eyesight problems, it is clear that a healthy lifestyle with a good diet and exercise may have a part to play in reducing the chances of their development.
Taking supplements may be beneficial alongside a good diet. I have written further posts on supplements and you can read one specifically for combating one of the types of macular degeneration by clicking here.
However, if genetics have an influence here, there is probably nothing you can do to stop their development in the first place unfortunately.
An early diagnosis of one of these conditions is key to prevent damage to the eye and their progression (if possible). So at aged 40 and above (or as your eye doctor recommends), regular eye checks should be undertaken so that these conditions can be identified at the earliest possible stage.
I hope you have found this post useful as a start to any research you are doing into any of these conditions. I must stress that I am not medically trained. Please see medical advice if you have any issues with your eyes. If you have any comments to make, please make them below and I will respond to you.