YOU and Your Doctor Are Your Medical Team – January 2024

We all know as we age, so does our body and its parts. The risk for some eye diseases and conditions increases as you grow older, and some eye changes are more serious. With aging eye changes and decreased vision, some daily activities may decrease like:  Losing the ability to see up close, trouble distinguishing colors, i.e. blue from black, and needing more time to adjust to changing levels of light and driving. Keep your eyes as healthy as possible by getting regular eye exams so any problems can be spotted early.

Common age-related eye problems include:

Glaucoma usually caused by too much fluid pressure inside the eye and is characterized by damage to or acquired atrophy of the optic nerve. Primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), is chronic and slowly progressive, and the most common form of the disease. If not treated, it can lead to vision loss and blindness. Glaucoma often has no early symptoms of pain. Some signs are: Hazy, distorted-blurred vision, low vision, narrow-”tunnel” vision, red eyes, decreased side- peripheral vision, colored halos /circles around light sources. However, some symptoms may come on suddenly, including severe headache and severe pain around your eyes.

AMD -also called age-related macular degeneration – the leading cause of blindness among seniors affecting nearly 25 percent of those over 65. It gradually damages “sharp” central vision, and color vision impacting daily life activities.  AMD is categorized as either dry or wet: the dry form is caused by thinning of the macular tissues with pigment changes or age spots in the area of central vision in the retina of the eye increasing to blurred vision and ‘blind spots’. The wet form is caused by the proliferation of tiny blood vessels that develop because of degenerative changes in the retina and leak fluid or blood. This form of macular degeneration can cause severe and rapid loss of vision. The majority of people have the “dry” form. The first signs may be a gradual or sudden change in the quality of your vision or that straight lines appear distorted /wavy. The root causes of macular degeneration are still unknown.

Age related cataracts –  are cloudy areas in the eye’s lens causing double vision, blurred/hazy vision, colors seem faded, sensitivity to light, trouble seeing at night. Cataracts take years to develop. In the early stages some people don’t even have symptoms. At later stages, when looking in the mirror, you might see a milky white covering over the pupil. Some cataracts stay small and don’t change your eyesight much. Others become large and reduce vision.  You may not notice the cloudiness until it blocks your central line of sight impairing your vision. If left untreated, cataracts may eventually cause total blindness.

Diabetic retinopathy-may occur if you have diabetes. It develops slowly, often with no early warning signs. This happens when diabetic substances damage the tiny blood vessels in the retina. When left undiagnosed and untreated, it could lead to permanent blindness. Experts believe that up to 30% of diabetic patients have not yet been diagnosed. If you have diabetes, be sure to have a dilated eye exam at least once a year. Keeping your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol under control can help prevent diabetic retinopathy or slow its progress in early stages. The early stages of diabetic retinopathy usually don’t have any symptoms. However, some people notice changes in their vision, like trouble reading or seeing faraway objects, possibly a lack of sharpness and difficulty seeing fine details. People with diabetic retinopathy may also notice an increase in floaters, “strings”, and spots in the field of vision. These changes may come and go.

Dry Eyes-happens when the eye either doesn’t produce enough tears or the tears evaporate too quickly. Symptoms include stinging or burning of the eye, a sandy or gritty feeling, decreased tolerance of reading, and inability to cry when emotionally upset.

See an eye care professional right away if you: Suddenly cannot see or everything looks blurry, see many new floaters -tiny specks or “cobwebs” that seem to float across your vision, and/or flashes of light, have eye pain, experience double vision, and/or have redness or swelling of your eye or eyelid.

The best approach is Prevention – see your doctor and get a regular eye exam, at least every year!

For more information about Lake Chapala visit:

Jackie Kellum

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