As you age, you may notice a decline in your vision. Many people over age
40 will experience age-related vision loss due to a condition called presbyopia,
which can cause difficulty reading and completing daily tasks requiring
near vision. Presbyopia is not dangerous and can be corrected with reading
glasses or bifocals.
Some age-related eye diseases, however, can be more serious, leading to
partial or total vision loss. These eye conditions include: age-related
macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma.
Age-related macular degeneration occurs when the middle part of the retina, the macula, gets damaged. Sharp
central vision diminishes as the macula is gradually destroyed. It is
common in adults over age 50, and symptoms often advance slowly, making
early detection more difficult without regular comprehensive eye exams.
Cataracts occur when the lens of the eye becomes clouded. Cataracts are common among
aging adults and can be treated with cataract surgery, in which the lens
of the eye is removed and replaced with an artificial lens implant.
Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes and is the leading cause of blindness in
the 20-64 year age group. Diabetic retinopathy causes leaky or abnormal
blood vessels in the back of the eye, which damage vision and can cause
complete vision loss.
Glaucoma is another common cause of vision loss in seniors. It is the result of
high pressure inside the eye due to abnormal flow of fluid in the eye.
As pressure in the eye rises, optic nerve damage and permanent blindness
Age-related eye diseases can be frightening, but there is some evidence
that the risk of developing these diseases can be reduced with a healthy
diet and lifestyle.
A National Eye Institute study on the use of supplements in preventing
age-related eye diseases resulted in the AREDS formulation of daily high
doses of vitamins and minerals. After multiple studies over the course
of several years concluded that the long-term use of the AREDS supplements
are safe in protecting against advanced age-related macular degeneration.
That formula of supplements includes vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin, zinc
You can help protect your eyes from age-related eye diseases by following
- Quit smoking (or never start). Smokers are twice as likely to develop age-related
macular degeneration than non-smokers.
- Take the AREDS supplements as well as omega-3 fatty acids.
- Eat more leafy green vegetables, whole grains, and fish.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Manage other health conditions including diabetes and high blood pressure.
- Always wear sunglasses when outside. Sunglasses should protect against
100% of UVA and UVB rays.
In addition to the above tips, keep up with routine eye exams. Symptoms
of age-related eye diseases often progress slowly, so you may not notice
changes in your vision until it’s too late. Seeing your eye doctor
eye exams improves the chances of early detection and can help prevent vision loss.
If you don’t remember the last time you had an eye exam,
contact Key-Whitman Eye Center and make an appointment today.