New Britain City Journal

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Health

You Should Set Your Sights on Healthy Eyes

Don’t let poor eye health get the best of you. The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommends that people age 40 and older make an appointment with their eye doctor if they have not had their eyesight checked recently. According to AAO, it is important to identify any problems as soon as possible, because early signs of eye disease and changes in vision may first begin at age 40. By the year 2020, approximately 43 million Americans will be at risk for blindness or major vision loss due to age-related eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Glaucoma is a disease that causes damage to the optic nerve in the eye. The optic nerve sends signals from your eye to your brain so you are able to see images. With glaucoma, fluid pressure in the eye builds up so much that it causes damage to the optic nerve. It is important to identify glaucoma early with regular vision screenings, because most people do not show any symptoms, and loss of vision develops slowly. If glaucoma is left untreated, it may cause blindness. However, eyesight can be saved with glaucoma eye drops and/or glaucoma surgery, as long as they are started early.

Cataracts occur when the normally clear lens of the eye becomes cloudy. The lens is the part of the eye that allows us to see clearly. If the lens becomes cloudy, objects become blurry, dim, or not as bright and colorful. Initially, changes in vision may go unnoticed at first, but as the cataract begins to develop, it becomes harder to see things clearly. Unfortunately, cataracts do not go away, and there is no medication available to cure them.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a disease that causes a breakdown of the macula in the eye. The macula is the part of the eye that allows us to see fine details clearly, like small print. Many are not aware that they have macular degeneration. Small changes in vision such as blurriness, colors appearing less bright, and blank or blurry spots in your central vision could be signs of a problem. Dry macular degeneration is the most common form that most people have. There are currently no treatments for it, but a scientific study has shown that special vitamin therapy can slow its development in some people. People who have dry macular degeneration need to be checked regularly by their doctor because it can turn into the more harmful form called wet macular degeneration. There are a variety of treatments for wet macular degeneration, which can include surgery.

Early detection of these age-related eye diseases is very important. Set your sights on healthy eyes by seeing your eye doctor on a regular basis.