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Keep an Eye Out for Eye Disease

by Published On: Sep 19, 2012

You may be at higher risk of developing eye diseases and conditions as you age, some of which can lead to permanent vision loss and blindness. Here are some common age-related eye diseases and conditions that you should know.

4 Common Age-Related Eye Diseases and Conditions That You Should Know 

  • Age-related macular degeneration(AMD) most often occurs among people age 60 and older. It gradually destroys the macula, the part of the eye that provides sharp, central vision needed for seeing objects clearly. Common risk factors are smoking, obesity, family history, and race, with Caucasians being the most likely affected.
  • Cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye, most commonly associated with aging, but smoking, prolonged exposure to sunlight, and having diabetes are also risk factors. Cataract makes what you see appear cloudy or blurry, and can make it difficult to drive at night because of glare from lights.
  • Diabetic eye disease is a group of diseases associated with diabetes. The most common is diabetic retinopathy, which damages blood vessels in the retina. Leaky blood vessels cause dark spots to appear in people’s vision. All people with diabetes, both type 1 and 2, are at risk. The longer a person has diabetes, the higher is his or her risk of developing diabetic eye disease.
  • Glaucoma is a group of diseases that damage the optic nerve. Primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) is the most common form and is a leading cause of blindness in African Americans and Mexican Americans. POAG has no early signs. As it progresses, peripheral vision begins to disappear. Left untreated, POAG can cause blindness.  

Since many age-related eye diseases have no symptoms, the best way to stay healthy is by scheduling regular comprehensive dilated eye exams, which are different from the basic eye exam you have for glasses or contact lenses.

If you are over age 50, making comprehensive dilated eye exams part of your routine health care is the best thing you can do to protect your sight. Don’t wait to experience symptoms before you get your eyes examined because vision that is lost often cannot be restored.  

For more information about eye health, caring for your vision, tips for finding an eye care professional, or a list of organizations that can help provide financial assistance for eye care, visit the National Eye Institute (NEI) Healthy Eyes

NEI is one of the National Institutes of Health and is the federal government’s lead agency for vision research that leads to sight-saving treatments.


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