Hey there, Lexington! At Eyes on Lex, we believe that taking care of your eyes is a lifelong journey. Since September is National Healthy Aging Month, it’s the perfect time to shed some light on 3 common age-related eye diseases: age-related macular degeneration (AMD), glaucoma, and cataracts. We’ll discuss what they are, why they occur, and how you can take steps to prevent them.
1️⃣ Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD).
What is AMD?
Age-related Macular Degeneration, often referred to as AMD, is a progressive eye disease that primarily affects the macula, which is the central part of the retina. The macula is responsible for sharp, detailed, and central vision, enabling us to read, recognize faces, and see objects clearly. Age-related Macular Degeneration can lead to blurred or distorted central vision.
How Does AMD Develop?
AMD typically occurs as we age, and is a leading cause of vision loss among older adults. There are approximately 11 million people who have age-related macular degeneration in the United States alone. There are 2 main types of AMD:
1️⃣ Dry AMD. This is the more common form and involves the gradual breakdown of light-sensitive cells in the macula. It can result in a gradual loss of central vision.
2️⃣ Wet AMD. Although less common, wet AMD is more severe. While only accounting for approximately 10% of AMD cases, it results in 90% of legal blindness. It involves the growth of abnormal blood vessels beneath the macula, which can leak and damage the macula quickly, leading to rapid central vision loss.
Prevention Tips for AMD.
While some risk factors for AMD, like age and genetics, are beyond our control, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk:
✅ Nutrition. A diet rich in leafy greens, colorful fruits, and fish high in omega-3 fatty acids contain antioxidants, vitamins (especially A, C, and E), minerals like zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids can support macular health.
✅ No Smoking. Smoking has been linked to a higher risk of AMD. Quitting or avoiding smoking is essential.
✅ UV Protection. Protect your eyes from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays by wearing sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays.
✅ Regular Eye Exams. Early detection through comprehensive eye exams in Lexington is crucial for the management of AMD. Our Lexington optometrists can monitor your eye health and provide guidance on potential treatments.
What is Glaucoma?
Glaucoma refers to a group of eye conditions characterized by damage to the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain. The damage is often associated with increased pressure in the eye, known as intraocular pressure (IOP). Glaucoma can lead to gradual peripheral vision loss and, if left untreated, eventually result in blindness. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide and it is estimated that over 3 million Americans have glaucoma.
How Does Glaucoma Develop?
Glaucoma typically develops slowly and may not produce noticeable symptoms in its early stages, earning it the nickname “the silent thief of sight.” There are different types of glaucoma, with Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma being the most common. Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma typically develops over time. It occurs when the drainage angle of the eye becomes less efficient at draining the aqueous humor (the clear fluid that fills the front part of the eye). This results in an increase in intraocular pressure (IOP) that can damage the optic nerve.
Prevention Tips for Glaucoma.
While glaucoma cannot always be prevented, early detection and management are critical. Here are some preventive measures:
✅ Regular Eye Exams. Comprehensive eye exams in Lexington can detect the early signs of glaucoma, often before noticeable vision loss occurs.
✅ Eye Pressure Monitoring. If you are at risk for glaucoma due to family history or other factors, your eye doctor may monitor your eye pressure and recommend treatments to lower it.
✅ Lifestyle Choices. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and a balanced diet, may contribute to overall eye health.
What are Cataracts?
Cataracts are a common age-related eye condition characterized by the clouding of the eye’s natural lens, which is located behind the iris and pupil. This clouding causes a gradual loss of transparency, leading to blurred or hazy vision.
How Do Cataracts Develop?
Cataracts typically develop slowly over time, and their progression varies from person to person. They can affect one or both eyes. Cataracts affect almost 25 million Americans age 40 and older and it is estimated that by the age of 75, almost 50% of Americans will have cataracts.
Prevention Tips for Cataracts.
While cataracts are a natural part of the aging process, some strategies may help delay their onset or progression:
✅ UV Protection. Shield your eyes from excessive sunlight with sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays. UV exposure is a risk factor for cataracts.
✅ Healthy Lifestyle. Managing chronic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure is important, as these conditions can increase the risk of cataracts.
✅ Smoking Cessation. Smokers are twice as likely to develop cataracts as those who don’t smoke. To reduce your risk of cataracts, smoking cessation is crucial.
✅ Regular Eye Exams. Routine eye exams can detect cataracts in their early stages. If cataracts are affecting your vision, our optometrists at Eyes on Lex can discuss treatment options, which may include cataract surgery.
As we celebrate National Healthy Aging Month, let’s commit to looking after our eye health as a vital part of our overall well-being. By understanding these common age-related eye diseases and taking proactive steps to prevent them, we can continue to enjoy clear, vibrant vision throughout our lives. Remember: Prevention and early detection are key in preserving your vision. Adopting a healthy lifestyle is crucial to your overall eye health and regular eye exams in Lexington, KY are your best defense against these age-related eye diseases. So, call Eyes on Lex today at (859) 278-7462 and book your comprehensive eye exam with our expert Lexington optometrists. Together, we will make sure your eye health and vision are functioning at their best today, tomorrow, and every day thereafter.