The effects of aging are not limited to wrinkles and gray hairs. Changes in eyesight are also common as we grow older, often leading to eye conditions including cataracts, glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration.
March is Save Your Vision Month, a timely reminder of why we must take a proactive approach to our vision as we advance in years.
“Your vision is one of the first senses you may notice changing as you get older,” said Dr. Sarah Eccles-Brown, board-certified ophthalmologist and partner at Elmquist Eye Group. “The good news is that most normal age-related eye changes should not stop you from being active well into your golden years.”
The most common age-related vision changes generally become evident between ages 41 to 60 and include the need for more light, difficulty reading and doing close work, problems with glare and reduced tear production.
The most important thing you can do for your eyes is to get an annual eye exam, especially once you tum 40. Regular comprehensive eye exams play a critical role in eye hea.lth, even if there are no noticeable vision problems. Exams allow your eye doctor to monitor, detect and treat developing eye conditions before pennanent damage occurs.
“This is the only way to find some conunon eye diseases that have no early signs or symptoms,” Eccles-Brown added. “Early detection and treatment are key to saving sight.”
Common age-related eye conditions include:
• Cataracts – Clouding of the nonnally clear lens of the eye, making things look blurry, hazy or less colorful.
• Age-related macular degeneration -The leading cause of irreversible vision loss among the elderly, causing loss of central vision.
• Glaucoma -A disease of the optic nerve, commonly associated with high eye pressures.
Early detection and diagnosis are most important in preventing loss of vision. In some cases, symptoms can be managed with lifestyle changes and medication. In more advanced cases, surgery may be necessary.
Cataract surgery involves removing the eye’s natural lens, which has become cloudy and fonned a cataract, and replacing it with an artificial lens implant. If you need cataract surgery, there are a variety of intraocular lenses available to correct your vision, ranging from traditional single vision to presbyopia-correcting lenses that can expand your range of clear vision with a reduced need for eyeglasses. Additionally, minimally invasive glaucoma procedures can also be performed in conjunction with cataract surgery, such as the iStent injec and Kahook Dual Blade to lower eye pressure.
What about the visible signs of aging?
Over time, the skin and muscles of your eyelids lose their elasticity and sag. Beyond the cosmetic impact, these changes can also result in impaired vision as they begin to block peripheral vision.
“While aging eyelids typically result in cosmetic concerns for patients, treatment may be required when the field of vision becomes obstructed,” said Dr. Yasaira Rodriguez, an ophthalmologist for Elmquist Eye Group who specializes in cosmetic and surgical eye procedures. “Surgical and non-surgical eyelid treatments can help correct sagging eyelids as well as restore a more rested and youthful appearance.”
For those plagued with undereye bags and droopy lids, an eyelid surgery called blepharoplasty can enhance the positioning of upper eyelids by removing loose skin and excess fat. This restores the eyelid’s natural contour while restoring peripheral vision.
Non-surgical cosmetic procedures like dermal fillers and neurotoxins also offer a safe and effective way to reverse visible signs of aging. Cosmetic procedures can help improve the appearance of fme lines and wrinkles, poor skin texture and lost facial volume. These procedures are minimally invasive with a short recovery time.
There are risks associated with any medical procedure. An ophthalmologist specializing in these procedures can help you determine the best course of treatment for your individual needs.
You can take steps now – and throughout your life – to protect your vision. Healthy habits and regular eye exams can help maintain vision as you age.
“You won’t get another pair of eyes,” Rodriguez added. “Take a proactive approach now to help preserve your vision for the future.”
You must care for your eyes now to save your vision for years to come. Make an appointment ,vith your eye doctor today.
With more than 25 years of service to the Somhwest Florida community, Elmquist Eye Group offers experienced doctors who are dedicated to patient care. Dr. E. Ti-evor Elmquist, Dr. Kate Wagner. D,: Sarah Eccles-Brown, Dr. Nina Burt and Dr. Yasaira Rodriguez of Elmquist Eye Group are available to answer your questions. With three U.S. military veterans leading the practice, Elmquist Eye Group’s team stands ready to serve you right here in Southwest Florida. For more information, visit ww,v.Elmquist.com, call 239-936-2020 or stop by an Optical Bomique location in Fort Myers or Cape Coral.
ELMQUIST EYE GROUP
239-936-2020 | www.elmquist.com
7970 Summerlin Lakes Dr.
2336 Surfside Blvd., Suite 121