Understanding Aging Eyes

Vision problems as we age

KINGSTON, LUZERNE COUNTY -- (WBRE/WYOU) -- It's not just our physical strength that tends to decrease as we get older. Our eyesight is among the first senses to be detrimentally affected during our adult years. Some of us will get by with reading glasses to compensate as our eyesight weakens. But for many others, the problem is more serious requiring medical intervention.

Back for a recent checkup, Frank Pendell of Wilkes-Barre Township is no stranger to the eye doctor. "I've been near-sighted all my life. I hated it because I had to wear glasses all the time." As Frank and his eyes aged, he encountered another vision problem that begins happening with greater risk in middle and old age. "The most common thing that we see is cataracts which is cloudiness that develops in the lens of the eyes," said Ophthalmologist Joshua Hedaya, MD of Eye Care Specialists in Kingston.

Frank had cataract surgery which involved replacing the natural lens in his eyes with artificial lenses. And how did he like the results? "I was so impressed that I could see now like 90 percent of everybody else that saw far away."

While there's no guarantee you'll get cataracts, expect to deal with a normal age-related condition called presbyopia. It's when the lenses of your eyes lose their elasticity. "It's important for the lens to be able to change shape in order to allow us to focus at different depths," said Dr. Hedaya. Reading glasses, prescription eyeglasses and contact lenses, and even refractive surgery are common options to restore your vision.

Another problem with aging eyes is something called floaters. It's when the vitreous which is that gell-like substance that gives your eyes the round shape shrinks and forms clumps or strands. It's what brought Frank back to his eye doctor. Those annoying floaters can appear as black or grey specks or strings. While sometimes they settle below the line of sight, the condition may require surgery. At 70-years-old, Frank and his doctor are deciding the next step to protect his eyesight. "You can do anything you want because you can see what you're doing. When you're blind, when you don't have vision, you need help."

Other aging eye concerns include glaucoma and macular degeneration. Dr. Hedaya says you can reduce your risk of developing serious eye problems through a healthy diet, exercise and avoiding smoking. He also recommends wearing sunglasses to prevent sunlight exposure and getting regular eye exams.


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