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Common Eye Problems In Seniors

May 22, 2021

Introduction

The human eye is a specialized sensory organ. It captures and detects visual images. It carries visual information to the brain. The human eye includes the cornea, pupil, lens, iris, retina, optic nerves, aqueous and vitreous humour & photoreceptors.

The eyes have several muscles that allow a person to look in different directions without any head movement. These muscles operate through various cranial nerves such as the abducent, the trochlear, and the oculomotor nerves.

Ageing is a slow and natural process that initiates in early adulthood. Many functions of the body gradually decline due to ageing. Aging can lead to several changes in eyes and vision. Eye problems are common during ageing. However, several measures help in maintaining the optimum health of the eyes.

Why are Seniors more sensitive to eye problems?

Changes that happen in old age are:

  • It becomes harder to focus on any object for a longtime
  • It is difficult to see in dim light.
  • The lens becomes yellow or brown and vision becomes hazy
  • Eyes become dry due to less production of tears
  • The number of nerve cells decreases.

The ageing process may also affect the production of tears. There is a decrease in tear production that is important to provide sufficient moisture to the eyes. Insufficiency in the amount of liquid may cause dry eyes.

In middle age, the lens of the eyes becomes less flexible. The thickness of the lenses reduces, and the ability to focus on a nearby object is also impaired. It is known as presbyopia.

Common Eye Problems In Seniors

Increasing age interfere with several body functions. It may cause various eye problems. These are presbyopia, dry eyes, cataract, glaucoma, conjunctivitis, eyelid problems, and retinal disorders. Retinal disorders include age-related macular degeneration (AMD), Diabetic Retinopathy, and Retinal detachment.

Presbyopia: It is a condition in which the eye lens becomes less flexible, less thick & cause difficulty to focus on nearby objects.

Dry eyes: The condition occurs when tear production is less. It leads to itching, burning and irritation in the eyes.

Cataract: Human eye has a lens to focus on the object. This lens is made up of proteins. Protein molecules of the lens form clusters and cause blurred vision. The condition is known as a cataract. A cataract develops mainly in the elderly. Replacing the lens with an artificial lens is the cataract treatment.

Glaucoma: Glaucoma occurs when the pressure of fluid within the eyes increases. It can damage the optic nerve. Loss of vision is a slow process in glaucoma.  The use of eye drops to treat glaucoma is effective, but sometimes eye surgery becomes necessary.

Retinal disorders: Retinal disorders become the reason behind most blindness cases in the present time. The retina is the back lining of the eyes having many cells responsible for the visualization of images. The cells also have the function to transmit images to the brain. In Retinal disorders there is interference with the functioning of cells affecting the transfer of visual impulses to the brain.

(a) Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD): Macula is a central region of the retina having many light-sensitive cells. The function of the macula is facial recognition and reading. It may cause vision loss but is not responsible for total blindness.

(b) Diabetic retinopathy: It is a complication that occurs due to diabetes in which the supply of oxygen to the retina becomes impaired. It results in many vision problems. Laser treatment is usually a preferred treatment to prevent vision loss and Anti VEGF Injections.

Conjunctivitis: The inflammation of the transparent covering of the eyeball is known as conjunctivitis. The eye appears pink in this condition. The doctor may prescribe antibiotics or antiallergics to manage the symptoms of this disease.

Prevention

The elderly can prevent or delay the occurrence or slow down the age related eye problems through the following measures:

  • Undergoing routine ocular examination by a doctor
  • Treatment of many eye problems is possible if they are detected early. One needs to visit the ophthalmologist and test the eyesight for glaucoma or cataract at regular time interval.
  • People who have a family history of eye disease and diabetes need to examine with pupil dilation at least once a year to prevent eye complications.
  • If you experience a sudden loss of vision, blurred vision, redness, swelling, teary eyes and pain, consult with an ophthalmologist at the earliest.

Common Eye Problems In Seniors

Ocular diseases may occur at any age. However, the elderly are at increased risk for developing various eye diseases. It is due to ageing with a reduction in the functioning of several tissues within the eye .However, it is simple to maintain good eye health by regular eye examination and keep your body healthy. Diet also plays a significant role in maintaining healthy eyes. Severe eye conditions may be treated by eye surgeries and other treatment options like injections and lasers.

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