There are four common conditions that cause vision loss as we age.
- Diabetic retinopathy. If you have diabetes, you should be seen by an ophthalmologist. The timeframe for starting these yearly eye visits are 5 years after type1 diabetes and at the time of diagnosis of type2 diabetes. When your diabetes is under better control, this decreases the risk of progression to diabetic retinopathy (when the back part of the eye makes new fragile blood vessels that can bleed). Two new studies show that taking fenofibrate (a pill to help cholesterol) can increase the time to the first laser treatment and slows the overall progression of diabetic retinopathy, regardless of its effect on lipids.
- Age-related macular degeneration. This is a common eye disorder with vision loss and difficulty seeing in the dark. Those with mild to moderate macular degeneration may benefit from a slowing of progression by taking vitamins lutein plus zeaxanthin. In initial studies there was a combination of vitamins that was found to be harmful. Be aware that omega-3 fatty acids did not help eye health. And, beta-carotene supplements were associated with increased lung cancer rates among smokers. Of to, lutein plus zeaxanthin did not offer benefit in the general study population (those without any age-related macular degeneration).
- Glaucoma. Get screened for glaucoma (increased pressure in the eye) especially if you have the risk factors of a family history of glaucoma, or are African American or hispanic. Diagnosis of glaucoma involves measurement of intraocular pressure and an evaluation of the optic disc and an automated visual field test. Medicated eye drops lower the intraocular pressure and can delay the progression of vision loss. Medical therapy works well, but there is often poor adherence to the drop regimen. Surgery is also available.
- Cataracts. As you age, you may appreciate decreased vision, sensitivity to glare or difficulty with nighttime vision. These are signs of a cataract, or clouding of the corner. Surgery is the only effective treatment for cataracts that compromise vision. To decrease cataract progression, limit eye exposure to ultraviolet light and do not smoke. Supplemental vitamins do not slow cataract progression.
I hope this helps.