I’ve had poor eyesight since childhood. I got my first pair of glasses at age six. And almost 60 years later, less-than-ideal vision is something I’ve learned to live with.
But my nearsightedness does not affect the health of my eyes, and it’s a far cry from other eye conditions that a person my age could develop.
The vision problems brought on by these conditions could end in blindness or near-blindness and can interrupt the ability to live life normally.
Often, they start with no symptoms at all. That’s why, even in this time of COVID and social distancing, I sat down in the exam chair last week and had my yearly eye exam.
I know that detecting some of these eye conditions early can help slow or even stop them from ruining my eyes or stealing my vision.
As you age, it’s important to pay attention to changes in your vision. Most importantly, it’s important to eat the right nutrition to keep your peepers healthy as long as you can. But while you’re doing that, watch for the warning signs of these three age-related eye conditions…
Late-onset retinal degeneration (L-ORD) is an inherited condition that usually shows up in your 60s.
Common to all retinal degenerative diseases is the damage to the photoreceptor cells of the retina. These are the light-sensing cells of the retina
The first sign is usually night blindness, or difficulty seeing and distinguishing objects in the dark. As the disease progresses, visual sharpness is lost overall, and it ultimately leads to complete blindness.
The two most common retinal degenerative diseases are age-related macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa.
Age-related macular degeneration
The retina is arguably the most important part of your eye. It is a thin layer of tissue that lines the back of the eye.
Located near the optic nerve, its job is to receive light and convert it into signals that are then sent to the brain, allowing us to recognize the things we’re looking at.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an irreversible destruction of the macula, a small area in the center of the retina. AMD leads to loss of the sharp, fine-detail, “straight-ahead” vision required for activities like reading, driving, recognizing faces and seeing the world in color.
There are two types of AMD: Dry and wet.
Most people with AMD have dry AMD. Small, yellow deposits of fatty protein, called drusen, accumulate in the macula. As they grow and cluster together, they block central vision.
Early signs of dry AMD include:
- Trouble reading — you need more light, and words appear blurry or hazy
- Colors appear less bright
- Haziness, blurriness or distortion in central vision
- Trouble recognizing people’s faces
In wet AMD, blood vessels grow under the macula and leak blood and fluid into the retina. Eventually, this forms a scar, causing permanent central vision loss.
In addition to the warning signs listed above, you may notice that lines that should be straight start to appear wavy. A door jamb, or any other straight-edged objects, may begin to appear distorted.
And having been diagnosed with dry AMD puts you at a higher risk of developing wet AMD.
According to the National Eye Institute, over half of the people in the United States have cataracts or have undergone cataract surgery by the time they’re 80 years old.
A cataract is a dense, cloudy area that forms in the lens of the eye and prevents the lens from sending clear images to the retina.
Common symptoms of cataracts include:
- Blurry vision
- Trouble seeing at night
- Seeing colors as faded
- Increased sensitivity to glare
- Halos surrounding lights
- Double vision in the affected eye
- A need for frequent changes in prescription glasses
The most common treatment for cataracts is removal through surgery. Here are seven steps for natural cataract prevention.
Care and feeding of your aging eyes
Don’t wait if you notice any of the signs or symptoms of these three eye conditions. They won’t go away on their own, and your vision will only become worse without treatment or surgery. Better, yet, you’ve yet to see any of these symptoms, now is the time for preventive action.
A healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals can help nourish and protect your eyes. Even when it comes to treating macular degeneration, especially the dry type, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends nutrition as treatment. In addition to promoting general eye health, the AREDS and AREDS2 studies found these vitamins and minerals may slow dry AMD if taken daily:
- Vitamin C (500 mg)
- Vitamin E (400 IU)
- Lutein (10 mg)
- Zeaxanthin (2 mg)
- Zinc (80 mg)
- Copper (2 mg)
Another study found that wet and dry AMD is attributed to leaky blood vessels in the eyes, while another study found that resveratrol may inhibit the growth of these leaky vessels.
Finally, if you have diabetes, monitor your blood sugar levels carefully. High blood sugar levels put you at risk for diabetic retinopathy. Here are some natural ways to protect your eyes if you live with diabetes.
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- Vision issues to monitor in your 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond — eyesiteonwellness.com
- Age-related macular degeneration — Web MD
- Cataract — healthline.com