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Catch eye problems early
Health advice
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My husband and I were sitting in a restaurant the other night joking about how far some people have to hold the menu from their face to be able to see it (he had left his glasses in the car) when I noticed a table of five passing one pair of glasses around. Each person stuck the glasses on their nose, read the menu and then passed them along to the next person.
That seemed to work well for everyone except one gentleman who joked about needing longer arms even after the glasses were perched on his nose. The attractive lady to his right, and owner of the glasses, said it is a known fact that arms got much shorter after you reached age 45 and everyone laughed.
Like the five people above, there are now more than 76 million "baby boomers" who are discovering they are losing some of their ability to do things the way they used to, including the ability to read fine print.
Called presbyopia, this condition occurs as the eyes gradually lose their ability to focus on objects close up. A normal result of aging, it affects most people older than 40 and everybody older than 51. Presbyopia occurs because the lens inside the eye loses its flexibility, preventing accurate focus on objects in the near field of view.
Our vision changes naturally throughout our lives. Examples of normal changes that occur with age are:
• Your eyes need more light to see.
• It becomes harder to tell the difference between colors, particularly blues and greens.
• It becomes more difficult to focus on things that are near, and
• Adjusting to glare and darkness can become more troublesome.
Prevention is an important aspect of health care especially when targeting age-related eye disease that are not normal changes and which may affect your sight. Nearly half of the 50,000 Americans who lose their sight each year go blind needlessly. Eye screening does not replace a professional eye examination, but it can help identify individuals who are at risk for eye disease. Finding eye disease in its early, treatable stages is important since this can save sight.
The leading causes of blindness will double their impact in the coming years, as the nation's baby boomers grow older. Unless drastic changes occur or science discovers new cures, it is believed that twice as many people will be blind by the year 2030 as are today. Macular degeneration will continue to be the leading cause of blindness and the total cases of glaucoma are expected to double.
The diseases described below are not examples of normal changes that occur with age but are instead diseases that may affect your sight. The only way to know if you have a potentially dangerous disease is to see your eye doctor and plan routine examinations.
• Macular degeneration is a degenerative disease that affects the macula, a small spot in the central area of the retina located at the back of the eye.
• Glaucoma is a group of diseases usually associated with increased pressure within the eye.
• Diabetic retinopathy affects the small blood vessels in the retina (the back layer of the eye) of people with diabetes.
• Retinal tear or detachment. The retina is a thin layer of light-sensitive nerve fibers and cells that covers the inside and back of the eyeball.
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