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Age-Related Eye Disorders and Their Conservative Prevention Measures

Author: Dr. Manjunath Natarajan - Eye Health  

Vision is the most important of our bodily senses for daily activities and work. But, just like all our bodily organs and functions, even our eyes cannot escape the inevitable aging processes. This article looks at some of the most prevalent age-related disorders and their prevention using the most conservative approach.

The list of age-related eye disorders is endless, and these same chemical and molecular processes which manifest during aging can be accelerated in a few younger individuals as well, making an appearance at a young age. The main issue with these disorders is their nature of irreversibility, the inevitability of aging for all of us, a fact of our evanescent life.

Given Below Are Some of the Most Notable of Age-Related Diseases:

1. Age-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD):

This disease is one of the most common causes of low vision or blindness in older age groups, although in a few cases, it can be seen earlier around 50 years. This disease affects the part of our eye which is most crucial for vision called the macula. The problem is quite significant if the macula gets involved as it has the highest photoreceptor density and our eye functions in such a way as to bring light to focus straight on to the macula.

Modes of Prevention:

This disease has important risk factors, which can be tackled to prolong its inevitable onset and prevent its worsening are:

  • Dietary deficiency - Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Zinc, Copper, Lutein, Zeaxanthin, and astaxanthin deficiency is known to worsen ARMD. According to the AREDS-1 study, the supplementation of vitamin A in smokers led to lung cancer. This led to the formulation recommended by AREDS-2, which included lutein and zeaxanthin to replace vitamin A in smokers. This cocktail of vitamins and micronutrients is readily available over-the-counter with the generic name 'AREDS 2 formulation'. This formulation has been known to slow the progression in moderate ARMD, although it has been shown to be of doubtful benefit in both the mild and severe forms of the disease.
  • Hypertension, cardiovascular disease - are also known to be a risk factor, consultation with a physician would be most appropriate here.
  • Smoking - is a very well known risk factor and patients are advised to quit smoking to prevent quick progression of the condition.
  • Ultraviolet exposure - is a notable risk factor. Avoidance of outdoor activities and use of appropriate sunglasses with UV protective antireflective coats or polarised sunglasses is apt.

2. Cataract:

It is the most common cause of low vision in healthy older adults and the aged populations. Although a universal phenomenon in all races of people, the onset is much faster in people with the following risk factors:

  • Diabetes (type 1 or 2) - diabetics suffer from a host of vision-related problems. Cataract formation in them is accelerated due to deposition of higher amounts of sugars in their lens, caused by higher amounts of sugar in their blood. The best mode of prevention is the treatment of their high blood sugars and yearly visits to an ophthalmologist.
  • Ultraviolet light exposure - is again a risk factor.
  • Co-existent eye disorders - the presence of diseases such as uveitis, fundus dystrophies, glaucoma, high myopia can also lead to the accelerated formation of cataract. The best prevention is to not neglect these problems and get an eye examination done.

3. Glaucoma:

It is a disease which is very commonly seen and is being given its due importance nowadays due to the availability of sophisticated diagnostic modalities which enable its early detection and monitoring. Studies show that its prevalence may be around 2 % of the world's population over 70 years.

It has numerous subtypes and diagnostic modalities, but the main problem in glaucoma is that it is a progressive disease of the nerve of sight (optic nerve), but the frightening part about this disease is that the patient is completely unaware of it. The patient would usually be completely free of any symptoms, thus arises the need for regular visits to the ophthalmologist.

The first line of treatments is with drops which lower the eye pressure and later the need for surgery may arise.

4. Presbyopia:

Presbyopia refers to an age-related decrease in near vision. It is caused by an age-related weakness in the mechanisms involved in near vision. This disease may be complicated by the concurrent existence of problems such as ARMD and macular disease. Although it is seen in everyone roughly over the age of 40 years, the problem can be easily corrected by using presbyopic glasses.

The power of the glasses keeps changing once every one or two years, which again is age-related. Apart from glasses, the patients can also be treated with contact lenses, refractive surgery, and intraocular lenses.

Hence, old age comes with its host of eye disorders, and regular screening visits will help detect and treat these disorders early.

For more information consult an eye care ophthalmologist online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/eye-care-ophthalmologist

Image: Age-Related Eye Disorders and Their Conservative Prevention Measures Last reviewed at: 08.Jan.2019

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