The Aging Eye – Macular Degeneration vs. Glaucoma

Eyesight changes are common with older age, but two diseases, age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma, can significantly affect the vision of seniors. In Americans older than 55, age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of impaired eyesight and blindness. AMD occurs when the macula, a small area in the retina (the tissue lining the back of the eye), deteriorates to affect sharp central vision used primarily for driving, reading and other close-up tasks.

Currently AMD affects more than 1.75 million people in the U.S. and falls into two main forms: dry, resulting in gradual blurred central vision, and wet, causing more rapid distorting of central vision. The causes of AMD are not fully known, but risk factors include age, genetics, race (Caucasians are at highest risk), smoking and certain medical conditions such as high blood pressure and obesity.

Glaucoma is an eye condition that develops when too much fluid pressure, called intraocular pressure, builds inside the eye. In a normal eye, fluid flows through a mesh-like channel, but with glaucoma, this channel is blocked and the increased pressure decreases peripheral or side vision. Glaucoma can affect anyone, even infants, but occurs most often in people over 40 and who have a family history of the disease. Glaucoma also can stem from an eye injury, severe eye infection and blockage of eye blood vessels.

Although neither disease has a cure, medication and/or surgery and some dietary changes and multivitamin supplements can help prevent permanent vision loss. Complete eye exams with dilation are important annually for seniors, particularly those with a family history of eye disease. To help your loved one cope with any form of limited vision, Right at Home provides companionship and homemaking services. Preventing and treating progressive loss of vision is vital to seniors’ health, independence and enjoyment of daily living.

Is it time for your loved one’s annual eye exam?

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