The human eye transforms light rays from objects into visual impulses, which are then interpreted by the brain as images. For most people, especially younger folks, this process works seamlessly. The following is a review of some of the common ocular problems we experience as we get older.
Dry eye syndrome is a condition caused by either decreased tear production or increased tear evaporation. Foreign body sensation, tearing, burning, itching, blurriness and redness are signs of this condition. Treatment includes warm compresses, eye lid scrubs, artificial tears and prescription medication.
Cataract is the leading cause of vision loss in this country affecting more than 20 million Americans aged 40 years or older. Cataract is clouding of the natural lens, leading to decreased vision. People with cataracts may complain of difficulty reading in low light conditions, glare and halo at night. The treatment is cataract surgery with a lens implant, a same-day procedure with great outcomes. Most people achieve great vision within a few days.
Glaucoma is a condition that causes damage to the optic nerve, the connection between the eye and the brain, leading to permanent vision loss. Some of the risk factors for glaucoma include family history, advanced age, ethnicity, diabetes and other specific ocular characteristics. A yearly eye exam is important to screen for glaucoma. Treatment options include eye drops, laser and surgery.
Another condition that can cause permanent vision loss is macular degeneration. This condition is hereditary and affects the central vision. Advanced age, family history, smoking, ethnicity, female gender are some important risk factors. At your yearly complete eye exam, your eye doctor will look for signs of macular degeneration. The two types are dry and wet, and treatment therapies range from observation, smoking cessation for the mild disease to injections for severe disease.
If you have noticed a change in your vision, or if it’s been over a year since your last eye exam, schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist today.
Dr. Daniel Ofori