Senior Eye Health

 As the eye ages, there are several serious eye conditions which may develop, including Cataracts, Glaucoma, Dry Eyes and Macular Degeneration. In addition, certain Eyelid Disorders are more likely to occur as one ages, and most people will develop a form of Presbyobia as they grow older. The following section describes these conditions and the symptoms that patients should watch for or ask the doctors at NY Vision Group about.


Cataracts | Manhattan NYCataracts

Cataracts are the clouding of the eye’s lens, like a window that is fogged with steam.
 
Symptoms include:

  • Painless blurring of vision
  • Double vision in one eye
  • Sensitivity to light and glare
  • Poor night vision
  • Fading of colors
  • Frequent changes in glasses or contact lens Rx

No medications, eye drops, exercises or glasses will cause cataracts to disappear, but when cataracts begin to interfere with daily activities, they can be treated surgically.
 
Treatment of Cataracts
 
Cataract surgery is one of the most common surgeries done in the United States today — over 1.4 million people have cataract surgery every year, and with skilled surgeons such as Dr. Harry Koster, it is one of the most safe and effective surgeries available. A number of technological advances in the last 10 years have not only made the procedure faster but also shortened the recovery time. In addition, new lens implant options such as the ReStor, Technis and crystalens implants are available which provide a broader range of vision than the traditional single, or mono, focal lens. For more details about the procedure and the lens implant options, please review our Cataract Center.


Glaucoma

Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in America. It is a condition associated with elevated pressure inside the eye, which can damage the optic nerve and cause vision loss. More than 3 million Americans are thought to have glaucoma, although only half know they have it. This is because the vast majority of the time, there are no symptoms. For this reason, routine screening and immediate attention to any of the following symptoms are imperative.
 
Possible Glaucoma symptoms include:

  • Blurred Vision,
  • Halos around lights,
  • Loss of peripheral vision, and
  • Difficulty focusing on objects.

Although glaucoma cannot be cured, early detection and treatment can usually preserve vision. At NY Vision Group we utilize the latest technologies to analyze the optic nerve and internal structures of the eye in order identify the presence of glaucoma. Although there is no cure for glaucoma, medication or laser surgery can slow or prevent future vision loss. Please see our section on Glaucoma Treatment and Screenings for more details on this condition.


Macular Degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration is damage to the macula (a part of the retina in the eye) which results in central vision loss.  Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss in the US, affecting more than 10 million Americans.  Because peripheral vision remains good, the disease does not cause total blindness, however, it can make reading or close work difficult or impossible without the use of special low vision aids. While there are different kinds of macular problems, the most common is age-related macular degeneration, as many older people develop macular degeneration as part of the natural aging process.  Many people do not know they have macular degeneration until they have noticeable vision problem or it is detected in an eye exam. 

There are two types of macular degeneration: Dry and Wet.  Dry (or atrophic) is the most common.  This disease is caused by the aging and thinning of the macula tissue. With this condition, vision loss is usually gradual.  If you notice any changes, you should tell your eye doctor right away as it may change into the more serious Wet form.  There is no medication or treatment for dry macular degeneration, although some patients may benefit from a vitamin or zinc therapy.

Wet (or exudative) degeneration causes more damage to the central vision and affects about 10% of the people with macular degeneration.  Wet macular degeneration occurs when abnormal vessels begin to grow under the retina of the eye.  These new blood vessels may leak, blurring or distorting vision.  Vision loss from this form of macular degeneration is usually faster than from dry macular degeneration.  The longer these vessels leak or grow, the greater risk to your vision.  Certain laser treatmentsand photodynamic therapies may limit the progressions but the earlier the disease is checked, the better, as these treatments cannot reverse any vision loss that has already occurred.

Macular Degeneration symptoms include:

  • Straight lines appearing wavy
  • Difficulty seeing at a distance
  • Decreased ability to distinguish colors,
  • Dark or empty spots in center of vision.

Sometimes only one eye loses vision, so it may be some time before a patient notices visual problems. Ophthalmologists can detect macular degeneration in the early stages through routine examinations and with ancillary tests, such as an Amsler grid test, a color vision test, and sometimes a fluroscein angiogram (FA). In a fluroscein angiogram, dye is injected into a vein in the arm and photos are taken of the retina and the macula as the dye passes through the arteries of the retina. The dye helps identify any blood vessel abnormalities or leakages that might be present. Early detection is important because people may not notice vision impairment, and early diagnosis and treatment are now possible with a variety of therapies.

Risk Factors for macular degeneration include:

  • Genetics: people with a family history of the disease are at higher risk
  • Age: symptoms increase as we age with signs of the disease present in up to 40% of people over 75
  • Race: Caucasians are more likely to develop the disease although it exists in every ethnicity
  • Eye Color: People with blue eyes are at higher risk
  • Smoking: Smoking significantly increases the risk

 Treatment of Macular Degeneration
 
Studies to find effective treatments are ongoing, but, as always, early detection is the best defense against losing vision.  For some patients whose condition is detected early enough, medical therapies can be used that decrease the likelihood of any leaking from abnormal blood vessels. These therapies can be combined with laser therapies as needed.  In addition, good lifestyle habits decrease the chance of developing this disease; in particular being a non-smoker decreases the chances significantly.  Here is a list of life style changes that may be helpful:

  • Enjoy a healthy diet (low in saturated fats, high in antioxidants)
  • Regular exercise
  • Avoid smoking
  • Protect your eyes from UV light with 99%-100% UV blocking sunglasses;
  • Regular dilated eye exams to determine if you need medical treatment for the disease.

 

Dry Eyes

Dry Eyes is a condition in which people do not produce enough tears to keep the eye comfortable.
 
Dry Eye symptoms include:

  • stinging or burning eyes;
  • scratchiness, eye irritation from smoke or wind;
  • difficulty wearing contact lens; and
  • excess tearing (caused when the eye becomes so irritated from dryness that tearing occurs).

Tear production normally decreases significantly as we age, and can also be associated with arthritis. A variety of treatment options exist for dry eyes and NY Vision Group tailors each treatment plan to each individual patient’s needs.
 
Treatment options include:
 
Adding artificial tears: a mild case of dry eyes can usually be treated with over-the-counter artificial tears. Usually patients can use the lubricating drops as often as needed to provide relief, and we can recommend the drops that are best for each patient. Sometimes ointments are recommended for night use;

Managing lid problems: sometimes an eyelid condition, such as an anatomic abnormality or an incomplete blink can contribute to dry eyes, in which case eyelid surgery may be a good solution. In addition, if your eye lids are inflamed due to blepharitis, regular cleaning of the lash area may be required.

Conserving Tears: in order to keep your natural tears around longer, we may recommend partially or completely closing your tear ducts, which normally serve to drain tears away. Tear ducts can be plugged with tiny silicone plugs.

At NY Vision Group we work with each patient to develop the right treatment plan. A more detailed explanation of dry eyes can be found in our Dry Eyes Section.
 


Eyelid Disorders

Common eye lid problems include redundant or sagging lid tissue, outwardly turned eyelids (ectropion) and inwardly turned eyelids (entropion). All of these conditions are commonly associated with aging and all of these problems can be greatly improved through simple outpatient procedures. Please review our Eyelid Procedures Section for more details.


Presbyopia

As people approach middle age, usually in their 40s, they often begin to experience blurry vision at near tasks, such as reading, and find they may need to hold books or other reading materials at arms lengths to focus properly. This condition is called presbyopia and happens to everyone at some point in life, even people who have never had vision problems. Causes of Presbyopia Presbyopia is believed to be caused by age-related processes which reduce the flexibility in the natural lens of the eye. These age-related changes occur within the proteins in the lens of the eye, making it harder and less elastic, and within the muscle fibers surrounding the lens, reducing elasticity.
 
Treatment Options
 
Treatment options include eyeglasses with bifocal or progressive addition lenses, multifocal contact lenses, monovision contact lenses and surgical procedures such as monovision LASIK or presbyopia correcting multifocal lenses, such as the ReStor and Technis lenses. We will work with you to find the solution that best fits your needs. Please see our Presbyopia section for more details.
 
Even if you don’t experience any of the symptoms associated with the conditions described above, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that people over age 65 should have complete eye exams by their eye doctor every one to two years to test for these and other eye conditions. If you haven’t been to see an eye doctor for over a year, click here to set up an appointment. Your eye health is an important part of your overall wellness, and NY Vision Group is dedicated to providing the best possible eye care to patients, enabling them to lead healthier, more fulfilling lifestyles.
 

February is Macular Degeneration Awareness month.  Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss in the United States, affecting more than 10 million Americans, The disease is caused by the deterioration of the central part of the retina, known as the macula.  The macula is responsible for focusing central vision in the eye and controls the ability to read, drive a car, recognize faces or see objects in fine detail (like threading a needle).  In advanced macular degeneration, an individual will lose their central vision but still have their side or peripheral vision.  While there are different kinds of macular problems, the most common is age-related macular degeneration, as many older people develop macular degeneration as part of the natural aging process.  Many people do not know they have macular degeneration until they have noticeable vision problem or it is detected in an eye exam.
 
There are two types of macular degeneration: Dry and Wet.  Dry (or atrophic) is the most common.  This disease is caused by the aging and thinning of the macula tissue. With this condition, vision loss is usually gradual.  If you notice any changes, you should tell your eye doctor right away as it may change into the more serious Wet form.  There is no medication or treatment for dry macular degeneration, although some patients may benefit from a vitamin or zinc therapy.
 
Wet (or exudative) degeneration causes more damage to the central vision and affects about 10% of the people with macular degeneration.  Wet macular degeneration occurs when abnormal vessels begin to grow under the retina of the eye.  These new blood vessels may leak, blurring or distorting vision.  Vision loss from this form of macular degeneration is usually faster than from dry macular degeneration.  The longer these vessels leak or grow, the greater risk to your vision.  Certain laser treatmentsand photodynamic therapies may limit the progressions but the earlier the disease is checked, the better, as these treatments cannot reverse any vision loss that has already occurred.
 
Risk Factors for macular degeneration include:
  • Genetics: people with a family history of the disease are at higher risk
  • Age: symptoms increase as we age with signs of the disease present in up to 40% of people over 75
  • Race: Caucasians are more likely to develop the disease although it exists in every ethnicity
  • Eye Color: People with blue eyes are at higher risk
  • Smoking: Smoking significantly increases the risk
Treatment. At present macular degeneration is considered a controllable but incurable eye disease. In addition to the treatments mentioned above, there are things you can do to reduce your risk and possibly slow the progression of the disease. For example, these life style changes may be helpful:
  • Enjoy a healthy diet (low in saturated fats, high in antioxidants)
  • Regular exercise
  • Avoid smoking
  • Protect your eyes from UV light with 99%-100% UV blocking sunglasses;
  • Regular dilated eye exams to determine if you need medical treatment for the disease.