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What Ocular Pathologies Are More Frequent at Age 60?

What Are The More Common Eye Pathologies After Age Sixty?

It is at this age when most of the degenerative ophthalmological pathologies related to the physiological aging of tissues are initiated. 

Frequent ocular problems that we can find after age 60 are

Floaters

These are small spots that float or move across our vision fields. They are more noticeable in bright environments. Most of the time they are secondary to normal aging changes in the gel that fills the eye, the Vitreous gel, but occasionally they can be associated to problems in the retina as retinal breaks and retinal detachment, specially if this floaters are associated with flashes.

It is recommendable to see your eye doctor if you experience new floaters or flashes.

Cataracts

This is the gradual cloudiness or loss of transparency experienced by our lens as consequence of the aging process. Frequent symptoms are blurry vision and glare. When cataracts significantly affect our vision they can be removed with surgery.

Cataract surgery is a common and safe procedure in which the cloudy lens is removed and a clear artificial lens is implanted in the eye to restore the vision, if the eye is otherwise healthy.

Glaucoma

This is a medical condition that affects the optic nerve. Unfortunately, this does not give objective manifestations or symptoms, it is mostly a silent disease. Therefore, prevention and early detection is clue.

If glaucoma is not detected and treated it can potentially cause significant vision loss and even blindness.

It is recommendable to check your intraocular pressure at least once per year. To detect glaucoma your doctor will asses the appearance of your optic nerve, check the pressure and order some testing as visual fields and OCT test (optical coherence tomography).

Age Related Macular Degeneration 

This age-related medical condition affects the more important area of the retina: the macula. This area is responsible for the detailed vision used in activities such as reading and facial recognition.

Damage of the macula can cause significant central vision loss, in general peripheral vision use to be spare. There is no cure for macular degeneration but in early stages patients may benefit of nutritional supplements that may slow the process. In advanced stages some types of macular degeneration as the Wet form may benefit of injections.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetes is another condition that is more frequently associated with aging. It can affect the blood vessels of the eye, specially in the retina. As a consequence of diabetes, the retinal blood vessels can leak causing retina swelling and subsequent blurry vision. They can also stop feeding the retina properly which can affect the retinal function and can trigger the growth of new pathologic and fragile blood vessels that can bleed causing significant vision loss. 

There are different treatments that can be used in diabetic retinopathy like intravitreal injections, laser, and surgery.

It is very important that patient diagnosed with diabetes have a dilated exam at least once per year.

The best way to prevent or treat all these ocular problems commonly associated with age is based in early diagnosis. Therefore, we recommend to be aware of the need to go to the ophthalmologist routinely. 

Author
Patricia Martinez, MD Patricia Martinez, MD Patricia Martinez Lehmann MD, is a board- eligible comprehensive ophthalmologist and eye surgeon treating patients throughout Blue Bell, Hatboro, North Wales and Bethlehem Pennsylvania. Dr Martinez is originally from Spain. She trained as an ophthalmologist in Barcelona (Spain) and worked there in comprehensive eye care for 10 years before moving to the US in 2010 for family reasons. She loved and missed her profession so much that in order to return to the clinical practice here in America she completed a one year glaucoma research fellowship at Wills Eye Hospital and 4 years of another ophthalmology residency at Drexel University / Hahnemann Hospital (Philadelphia) and West Virginia University Eye Institute ( Morgantown). Dr Martinez areas of expertise include cataract surgery, management of glaucoma and dry eye disease. Dr Martinez speaks English and Spanish.

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