Much like bones, hearing, and physical strength deteriorate with age, so do the eyes.
Glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, cataracts – the list goes on for those approaching and exceeding the age of 60. However, it isn’t quite as black and white as declaring all of these diseases as strictly age-related – also like with hearing and physical strength, much of it depends on lifestyle variables and nutrient consumption.
Age-related eye diseases are naturally-occurring phenomena, building as the years go by. By age 40, the lenses inside of the eyes harden to a point where presbyopia develops, making close-up focusing difficult. As the body ages further, it becomes increasingly vulnerable to disease, but may not be quite as “sudden” as some people describe it as being. Because these impacts snowball through the years, it is virtually impossible to detect a disease without careful monitoring – there is no “aha!” moment to be found upon turning 60 or 65, meaning that updates with your eye doctor are crucial to maintaining eye health and vision quality. Deposits accumulate in the eyes over decades, blood vessels enlarge, and intraocular pressure amps up as we go through decades of daily life, oblivious to the looming effects to be experienced in old age.
- Cataracts. Perhaps the most prevalent effect of age-related eye disease is cataracts, caused by denaturation of proteins in the crystalline lens within the eye – sometimes as a result of trauma. Mayo Clinic estimates cataracts appear in just about half of all Americans 65 and older. By 2020, the number of Americans with cataracts is expected to hit an all-time high of 30 million. Cataracts are generally treated or cured with insertion of multifocal lens implants and intraocular lenses that restore vision. In the meantime, cataracts can be warded off through consumption of vitamins A, C and E, all of which are antioxidants that work well in combination with UV ray-blocking sunglasses.
- Macular Degeneration. Occurring in two million people, 10 percent of who are age 66 to 74, macular degeneration can easily go unnoticed without being carefully monitored by a doctor, caused by abnormal growth of blood vessels and resulting in blindness if left untreated. The risk of contracting the disease can be decreased upon long-term consumption of antioxidants like Beta-Carotene, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, zinc and lutein. Supplements are especially advisable for those over the age of 60.
- Dry Macular Degeneration. Drusen, an extra-cellular deposit that becomes more common as we age, ultimately leading to the degeneration of rod and cone cells that make eyesight functional. About 90 percent of all macular degeneration cases are dry.
- Wet. By comparison, wet macular degeneration occurs in roughly 10 percent of all cases, resulting from leakage of blood and protein, damaging the macula and causing vision loss.
- Glaucoma. Described as the “thief of the night,” glaucoma can go completely unnoticed until it hits an advanced stage. This is largely because of an increase in intraocular pressure that, under normal circumstances, irrigates the eye and replenishes cells. However, increase in this pressure, over a long period of time can damage the optic nerve and affect peripheral and central vision. Nourishment can be provided to the optic nerve through intake of Vitamin A, C and E, as well as bilberries and fish oil.
- Diabetic Retinopathy. This disease is especially prevalent among people who have had diabetes for more than a decade – nearly 80 percent of those people, in fact. An accumulation of blood sugar hemorrhages the blood vessels in the eye, making them more fragile and likely to block nutrients from being properly distributed in the retina. The result is blurred vision and, if left untreated, blindness. This is commonly treated through surgery, and best prevented and regulated by being conscious of your blood sugar levels.
The Cure for Eye Problems
The take away: be proactive. It’s true that by the time you’ve reached the age of 60, little can be done to prevent the onset of diseases like cataracts and glaucoma, but it’s never too late to start making lifestyle and diet changes to build a defense against the aforementioned conditions. A healthy diet and regular visits to your optometrist can go a long way in keeping your eyes healthy and your vision near-perfect through your golden years.
This article was contributed by Rachael from ReplaceMyContacts.com, a retailer of contact lenses online. Find popular products such as Biofinity Toric, Acuvue Oasys for Astigmatism , and many more when you visit our site.