Posted on Aug 9, 2019 in Senior Health
Vision problems, such as age-related macular degeneration, are common issues that affect many older adults. Learning more about these type of vision issues can help you prevent them and identify them when they occur.
What Is Age-Related Macular Degeneration?
Age-related macular degeneration is an eye disease that causes a blur in your vision that can affect your central or “straight-ahead” vision that can get in the way of activities like reading or driving. The disease is painless but affects the macula or the part of the eye that lets you see fine detail.
The disease is a common eye condition and one of the leading causes of vision loss among people age 50 and older.
Age-related macular degeneration is something that, as the name suggests, takes place over a period of time and advances slowly. As the disease progresses there will be a blurred area near the center of vision in one or both eyes. The condition will not lead to complete blindness. However, the loss of central vision caused by the disease can interfere with some simple everyday activities.
There are two types of age-related macular degeneration: wet and dry.
The dry form of the condition is the most common, affecting 90 percent of people with the problem. It is caused when erosion thins the retina.
The vision loss associated with the disease is caused by damage to the macula, which is a small spot near the center of the retina and the part of the eye that controls central vision.
There are a number of risk factors associated with age-related macular degeneration including smoking, race, and family history. Research has shown that smoking tobacco doubles the risk of dealing with age-related macular degeneration and the condition was most prevalent among Caucasians than other races. Moreover, people who have a family history of age-related macular degeneration are at a higher risk.
Obviously, you can negate some of these increased risk factors by avoiding smoking, exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, and more. Enriching your diet, by using green leafy vegetables like spinach, collard greens, and kale are good sources of eye-healthy nutrients are all good sources of eye-healthy nutrients.
The macula is a portion of the eye that is located in the back of the eye. It is made up of millions of light-sensing cells that provides sharp, central vision and is the most sensitive part of the retina. When the macula is damaged it causes the center of your visual field to appear blurry, distorted, or dark.
Other Age-Related Vision Issues
Along with age-related macular degeneration, there are a long list of other age-related problems that can affect vision.
Cataracts are a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision. Most cataracts that affect people are related to aging as they are very common in older individuals. In fact, by age 80, more than half of all Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery. Cataracts are caused by clumps of protein that cloud a small area of the lens in the eye. This cataract can grow larger and cloud the lens making it harder to see.
These clumps of protein can reduce the sharpness of an image and reduce the light that reaches the retina. Cataracts are a gradual problem in which vision gets worse over time. The cloudy area in the lens can get larger and seeing can become more and more difficult as vision gets duller and blurrier.
Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damage the optic nerve in the eye and can cause vision loss and blindness. A healthy optic nerve is necessary for good vision. One way that glaucoma can cause optic nerve damage is due to eye pressure. There is a clear fluid that flows in and out of a space in the eye called the anterior chamber to help nourish nearby tissues. However, when someone has glaucoma, the fluid will leave the chamber and build up, causing pressure in the eye to rise and cause potential damage to the optic nerve leading to loss of vision. Glaucoma can develop in anyone, but one of the most at-risk groups is anyone over the age of 60.
Floaters or “cobwebs” are specks that float about in your field of vision. They are small and dark and can have spots and squiggly lines. They move as the eyes move and seem to avoid you if you try to look at them directly. Floaters are common and most people learn to ignore them, but they are usually not noticed until they become more numerous or prominent. Floaters will occur when a gel-like substance, called the vitreous, fills up 80 percent of the eye slowly shrinks. As this component shrinks, it becomes somewhat stringy and the strands can cast shadows on the retina, these are floaters. Floaters are more likely to develop as we age and are most common in people who are nearsighted, have diabetes, or have had a cataract operation.
There are many others, but these are just a few of the common age-related vision problems that can affect your or your loved one as you grow older.
Age-related macular degeneration is one of the many vision issues that can affect people as they age. Unfortunately, these vision problems can interfere with a person’s ability to perform day-to-day tasks and may even require the assistance of a caregiver or an assisted living facility. One new mexico senior living facility that can help is Landmark Senior Living. At Landmark, our dedicated staff is here to provide your loved one with the quality care that they deserve at this point in their life. If you would like to learn more about what Landmark can offer, please visit our website and reach out to schedule a free tour of one of our facilities.