As we age, our organs deteriorate with time and various conditions occur, especially in the eyes. Older people generally are prone to blurred vision, eye irritation, weeping eyes and poor eyesight.
These symptoms occur due to muscles in the eye area becoming weaker, thus losing their strength to hold the eye lenses correctly in place. This results in impaired vision, making it difficult to see small objects clearly within normal range. However, two more serious, yet common, age-related eyesight problems are macular degeneration and cataracts.
Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a type of optical degeneration that originates at the mid-section of the optic nerve, known as the macula. Although AMD patients develop blurred vision, their visual scope remains normal. However, AMD eventually leads to severe degeneration of the eyesight. Those with high blood pressure, or cigarette smokers, are most at risk from developing AMD and the latter group, in particular, have a 6-times higher than average risk of developing severe eye problems. Severe AMD conditions are commonly found at a rate of 1-2% in people aged between 50-60 years. The symptoms worsen as they age and 28% of people in their 80s are reported to suffer from chronic stages of AMD.
Two types of AMD:
1. Dry AMD Common symptoms include thinning of the mid-section of the optic nerve, tiny yellow dots “drusen” (accumulation of an alien substance at the retina), and uneven discoloration of cells below the retina. If left untreated, the mid-section of the optic nerve will gradually decrease in size and vision ability will deteriorate.
2. Wet AMD This is as a result of an abnormal growth of the blood vessel from the choroids layer that leads to the retina, causing lymph, lipid and blood to seep through the wall of this irregular blood vessel. There is a strong possibility that this vessel may rupture, with excessive internal bleeding, causing rapid deteriorating vision originating from the mid-section of the optic nerve. Finally, a web tissue will form at the centre of the retina.
Cataract is a prime cause of poor eyesight and may eventually lead to blindness. Chances of developing cataracts increase as we age. Statistics show that under 65 years, there is a 5% chance of developing cataracts, which increases to 50% for those of 75 years and older.
Cataract is a condition that has a murky effect on the eye lenses, limiting natural light reaching the retina, and is a result of the aging process in which all body organs deteriorate with time. Other causes include eye infections, eye inflammation, hard impact around the eye area, as well as the side effects from steroid-induced cataract treatment (eye drops, or oral drugs).
Today, the implanting of artificial lenses is the most effective way to treat cataracts, which will greatly improve visibility in most cases, except in some cases with other severe abnormalities, or those with existing eye conditions that affect vision in other areas, or complications following surgery.
It is important for us to maintain good vision, especially as we get older. The elderly are advised to visit an eye physician once every year to have a thorough eye check-up, including vision, eye pressure and other eye conditions.
Bangkok Hospital Pattaya’s Eye Center is pleased to serve you. For further information, please call our Contact Center 1719.