Over forty? You could be blind by sixty unless..

Someone told me  recently that his ophthalmologist told him that by the time he gets to age sixty, he will have glaucoma. That is a scary thought. No-one wants to hear that they might lose their sight.But he said, that it is not in his DNA  and that will not happen to him. Perhaps he is denial, but what do we  really know about glaucoma? This led me to thinking about my own vision issues and the whole idea of age-related eye diseases.

What we should know about Glaucoma

  • Glaucoma often has no early symptoms.
  • People at higher risk need a comprehensive dilated eye examination every 1–2 years.
  • Early detection, treatment and follow-up care are key to preventing vision loss and blindness.
  • Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that damages the optic nerve. Optic nerve damage is caused by increased pressure from fluid that builds up inside the eye. The amount of pressure that can cause damage varies from person to person. Glaucoma affects peripheral (or side) vision, narrowing the field of vision.
  • Left untreated, glaucoma can cause total vision loss. Glaucoma can affect one or both eyes. The most common form is primary open-angle glaucoma”.( National Eye Institute website)

 

When I had my fortieth birthday,it seems that very day my vision began to deteriorate.Suddenly my computer screen, fine print in books and  the like became really blurry. You know I panicked and rushed to see my eye doctor, “I think something is wrong with my eyes . I am getting blurs”. To my horror, the gentleman said to me, ” No, you are just getting old”. He further explained to me that I was developing  Age-related  Macular Degeneration or AMD.Since that time, I have had to change my prescription every year.

What is Age-related Macular Degeneration

AMD is a disease that blurs the central part of vision that affect  your ability to do close-up activities like reading, sewing ,using the computer and other similar activities. It is not likely to make you go completely blind ,but it does progress to a point that you may experience blank spots. It may  also cause things to appear less bright than they actually are. If you were to come to my house you would notice that I have installed much brighter light bulbs now than  before, simply because am not seeing that well with light at normal brightness. The video below gives more details. ( National Eye Instutute  website: http://www.nei.gov/health)

Risk Factors for AMD

The risk factors for this disease seem to be related to lifestyle, race, age , family history and genetics. It appears that onset occurs usually after sixty , but it sometimes occurs at younger ages.there appears to be some relationship to family history and genetics. But the research on these is not definitive. However race seems to be a factor, since the occurrence of this disease is greater in Caucasians than in Blacks or Hispanics. Lifestyle ,  as in many other diseases can either make this disease worse or better. Smoking is definitely a worsening factor, whereas good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle and a diet rich in green, leafy vegetables help to reduce the effect,  lengthen the time before onset and reduce the degree to which the  individual is affected.

 

AMD worsens with certain other diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure. But the more worrisome problem with diabetes and  your vision is that diabetes can cause worse eye problems which ultimately could cause blindness. Changes in the blood vessels in the retina -retinopathy, cataract and glaucoma are a bad combination and could cause you to go blind.If you are diabetic make sure when you speak with your eye care provider you ask about dilation of the eyes. This is a method eye professional uses to check your eyes for early signs of disease.

 

Therefore, protect your vision from early in life. Stay healthy and fit and visit your eye doctor regularly.   The world is too beautiful a place to loose sight of.

 

 

Written by Karen Morgan

8/2/2017

References : https://nei.nih.gov/health/maculardegen/armd_facts

https://nei.nih.gov/nehep/programs/glaucoma/learn-about

 

 

 

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