The natural process of aging affects the whole human body, including the eyes. It is not a coincidence that most everyone over the age of 40 wears eyeglasses or contact lenses. Fortunately, today's advances in the field of ophthalmology have made eyeglasses and contact lenses extremely functional. In addition, various surgery procedures have been developed to reduce patients' dependence on corrective eyewear and increase their visual acuity. Read on to learn about three common age-related eye conditions and their respective treatments.
Cataracts are an inevitable part of the aging process. Virtually every man and woman over the age of 60 suffers from some degree of cataracts. Cataracts form when the eye's natural lens becomes cloudy over time. There is no cure for cataracts, and the clouding process cannot be stopped or reversed. Instead, cataracts are treated by removing the clouded natural lenses and replacing them with artificial lenses known as intraocular lens implants (IOLs).
The most advanced IOLs, known as premium IOLs, are able not only to restore unobstructed vision but also correct vision errors. The IOLs can help the patient switch with ease between near and far objects (ReSTOR IOLs) or change focus over a variety of distances (Crystalens IOLs). Some IOLs also help correct astigmatism (Toric IOLs). After undergoing refractive cataract surgery with these premium IOLs, most patients experience a dramatic improvement in their vision, and many do not require eyeglasses for most daily tasks.
Presbyopia is an eye condition whereby the eye's natural lens becomes hard and inflexible. As a result, the patient finds it difficult to focus on near objects, such as a newspaper, a book or a computer screen. Like cataracts, presbyopia is part of the natural aging process, and it cannot be stopped or reversed.
The main treatments of presbyopia are special presbyopia glasses and multifocal contact lenses. Patients with more advanced presbyopia sometimes opt for surgical treatments, such as monovision LASIK, PresbyLASIK or conductive keratoplasty (CK). The goal of these surgical procedures is to adjust the shape of the cornea to help the eye perceive near images with greater clarity and precision.
Everyone over 60 is at risk for glaucoma, a condition in which the pressure inside the eye becomes elevated. If the high pressure remains untreated for a prolonged period, it can lead to irreversible damage to the optic nerve, causing blindness. Because glaucoma does not produce any symptoms, vision changes or pain until it has reached an advanced stage, everyone over 60 should receive the glaucoma test at least once a year. The test takes less than one minute to perform, is completely painless, and can save you from complete blindness.
Treatments for glaucoma include eyedrops that lower the eye's intraocular pressure (IOP) as well as surgery to decrease the amount of intraocular fluid in the eye. Glaucoma surgery may be performed with or without the use of lasers.
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