It’s no secret that your vision changes as you age. People typically experience this shift in eyesight gradually, making it hard to distinguish between normal, age-related changes and pathologic changes that could affect your quality of life. The three most common conditions are cataract, glaucoma and dry eye syndrome.
This common medical condition, in which the lens of the eye becomes cloudy, causes blurry vision and glare. The good news is that it is treatable for the millions of people who are affected. In fact, cataract surgery is the most common procedure performed in U.S. operating rooms, with over three million surgeries per year.
Many patients ask, “Do you think it’s time for me to have my cataract removed?” The truth is, it’s actually you, not the eye surgeon, who should decide when it’s time. Surgery is a great option when you can’t engage in your favorite activities as a result of decreased vision or when you have trouble doing everyday tasks.
The recovery period for cataract surgery is relatively quick; most patients see clearly within a few days. With this 10-minute surgery, the risks for complications are low and patient satisfaction is at an all-time high.
Have you experienced a gradual loss of sight? You could have glaucoma, a disease affecting the cable that carries messages from the eye to the brain. This can result from poor blood flow, unique anatomy, genetic risk factors and/or intraocular pressure that is higher than the eye can tolerate. Glaucoma is a leading cause of irreversible blindness, and people of all ages are at risk.
Although there is currently no cure for glaucoma, you can halt the progression of vision loss with eye drops, laser surgery or even large filtering surgeries when less invasive methods aren’t working. Individuals with a family history of glaucoma should stay up to date with eye exams because it’s generally a painless disease.
Lastly, there are several types of glaucoma. Some require different therapies that are often successful when managed by comprehensive eye surgeons.
Dry Eye Syndrome
Common in both men and women, dry eye symptoms include tearing, redness, blurry vision that improves with blinking, and sand-in-your-eye sensation. The condition is caused by the body’s inability to produce enough tears to protect the surface of the eye or the eye’s inability to hold on to the tears that it makes.
Tears are crucial for nourishing the eye and keeping the cornea in optimal condition. Several risk factors can make you more susceptible to dry eye syndrome, such as age, gender, eyelid conditions, poor makeup removal technique, increased screen time and environmental conditions.
Once diagnosed, there are many treatment options. They include preservative-free artificial tears, blocking the tear ducts with small silicone inserts, surgically closing them to conserve natural tears or taking an omega-3 supplement to improve the ocular surface.
If you think you may be at risk or suffering from any of these conditions, visit an ophthalmologist to discuss the vision problems you’re experiencing. These experts can help you improve your quality of life.
Dr. Mehul Patel is an ophthalmologist at UCF Health in Lake Nona who is focused on preserving the eye health of his patients through both non-surgical and surgical techniques.