When Mother’s Day comes round this year, instead of taking your mother out for a nice meal, why not bring her in for her annual eye examination. Or why not do both if you’d like to show just how much you cherish her?
For some elderly people, a certain amount of clouding in the eyes may be due to the natural ageing process. For others, however, this may be a sign of eyes disorders developing. Screening for eye disorders can ensure that they are not allowed to develop into a serious condition. Screening should be viewed as a positive step that may allow elderly people to continue to see as clearly as ever.
Eye disorders affect vision and can be caused by numerous different factors, resulting in various forms of subsequent symptoms depending on the condition. The most well-known of these eye disorders include cataracts, glaucoma, pinguecula and pterygium.
Cataracts tend to affect elderly people over the age of 55, with up to 50% of this group suffering from cataracts at some point. That number rises to almost 100% when considering those over the age of 75. Cataracts develop as a result of the natural deterioration of the lens, but can also be caused by other factors including a family history of cataracts, diabetes or a serious accident that led to a suppression of the lens located in the eye. Such a disturbance would cause a reduction in the amount of light reaching the retina with the only light potentially making it through consisting of cloudy white, yellow or brown colors that would lead to a lack of vision clarity depending on the severity of the symptoms. In severe cases, whereby the lens has been seriously compressed, the patient may lose their sight altogether.
There are currently techniques available for the treatment of cataracts that can enable patients to see clearly once more and which can completely and effectively cure the condition. One such technique is phacoemulsification surgery, which involves making a tiny incision of just 1.8-3.0 millimeters that then heals by itself without the need for stitches. Once the incision has been made, the ophthalmic surgeon will place a synthetic lens into the lens cover. This will last for the rest of the patient’s life without a replacement lens or any cleaning of the new lens necessary.
Glaucoma is the most severe form of eye disorders and a major cause of permanent loss of vision. It is caused by damage to the fibers present in the optical nerve with the condition’s initial stages not displaying any outward symptoms or signs. By the time that patients become aware they are suffering from glaucoma, their vision may have already been severely damaged. The most common factors behind the onset of glaucoma are ageing, hereditary ocular hypertension and congenital conditions, such as migraines and diabetes. Additionally, some forms of medication may also increase the risk of glaucoma, including the steroid group of eye drops.
When glaucoma is identified in its early stages, the doctor may prescribe regular ocular hypertension relief medication to ensure that the optical nerve fibers are supported and do not sustain any further damage. Such eye drops also help to maintain the patient’s eyesight for as long as possible. Aside from eye drop treatment, surgical laser treatment is also available for the treatment of glaucoma. The course of treatment selected depends on the severity of the patient’s symptoms as well as on the diagnosis carried out by the ophthalmic specialist.
Pinguecula can affect people of any age or gender, but tends to become more common the older we get. The condition is usually caused by the eye’s prolonged exposure to wind, dust and sunlight, which leads to a transformation from regular tissue into a benign tumor located within the whites of the eyes. Vision will remain unaffected, but a thin membrane or yellow bumps will appear in the whites of the eyes as well as in the area around the top and bottom of the eyeball itself, close to the cornea. This may cause irritation to the sufferer, as they experience a dryness or soreness of the eyes with some people even feeling like they constantly have something in their eyes.
Pinguecula does not require treatment unless serious symptoms materialize, such as redness, inflammation and severe irritation of the eyes. In such cases, artificial tear or specialized pinguecula medication may be used according to the doctor’s advice. However, in cases whereby the pinguecula has grown to the extent that it is considered to have developed into pterygium, the doctor may consider surgery.
Prevention of eye disorders
Although the symptoms and severity of each eye disorder vary greatly, the factors which cause the conditions are quite similar. Thus, you should care for the health of your eyes in the following ways:
M.D., Faculty of Medicine, ChiangMai University 1988.