Community Blog

Eye Disorders and the Elderly

By Erin Carll

By the age of 65, approximately one in three people have an eye disease that is causing some degree of vision loss. This loss of vision often results in a decreasing ability to perform the daily tasks of living. The four most common diseases creating this loss are age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts and diabetic retinopathy. Fortunately, if caught early, the progression of these disease can, if not halted, at least slowed down. There are also steps your loved one can take to help prevent them from ever occurring.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration causes degeneration of the macula—the small part of the retina that is responsible for central vision. It is the leading cause of blindness in seniors. This disease progresses at various rates. Risk factors for this disease include smoking, high blood pressure and the presence of an increasing number and size of tiny yellow or white deposits under the retina called drusen.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a group of disorders characterized by increasing fluid pressure inside the eye which eventually damages the optic nerve. Approximately 1 million Americans over the age of 65 have some loss of vision because of glaucoma. This disease results in loss of side, or peripheral, vision. There are rarely any symptoms or warning signs that it is developing until loss of vision is perceived in its advanced stages. Risk factors include diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, increased internal eye pressure and nearsightedness.

Cataracts

Cataracts are formed from proteins in the eye that clump together and result in clouding or opacities of the lens of the eye. It is the most common cause of blindness worldwide. If left untreated, cataracts can eventually cause blindness. In America, people age 75 and older have a 50 percent chance of developing this disease. Due to the advanced surgery techniques in America, most cataracts are treated successfully by replacing the lens of the eye. Risk factors include exposure to ultraviolet light, smoking, diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes and is caused by damage to the tiny blood vessels found in the retina. As with most eye disease, early detection is key, but the disease offers few warning signs. You can greatly reduce the chances of developing this disease that can lead to blindness by managing your blood sugar levels.

Prevention

A comprehensive annual eye exam is recommended for all people age 65 and older in order to catch these diseases in their infancy or before they have a chance to develop. Recent research suggests that a diet high in carotenoids may help prevent several of these diseases. The carotenoids that are found in eye tissue are zeaxanthin and lutein. These are found in foods such as eggs, squash, spinach, broccoli, peas, green beans, peppers, celery, kiwi and grapes. Additional precautions include wearing UV protective sunglasses and maintaining an appropriate weight through diet and exercise.

Home Care Provider

If your loved one suffers from the effects of one of these diseases, consider obtaining the services of a home care provider. These professionals can assist with the daily activities of living, provide companionship and ensure that your aging parent remains socially engaged.

Prevention

A comprehensive annual eye exam is recommended for all people age 65 and older in order to catch these diseases in their infancy or before they have a chance to develop. Recent research suggests that a diet high in carotenoids may help prevent several of these diseases. The carotenoids that are found in eye tissue are zeaxanthin and lutein. These are found in foods such as eggs, squash, spinach, broccoli, peas, green beans, peppers, celery, kiwi and grapes.

Resources
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/glaucoma/basics/risk-factors/con-20024042
https://www.cdc.gov/visionhealth/basics/ced/
http://www.aafp.org/afp/1999/0701/p99.html

If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring home care in Mars, PA, please call the caring staff at Home Helpers. Call today (412) 201-0712.