Senior Eye Problems

Panama City Cataracts, Glaucoma, Diabetic Retinopathy

While many eye problems become more common as one ages, it is by no means inevitable that your vision will deteriorate. Most senior eye problems are treatable with proper eye care. If your vision is getting worse, don't just accept it as a part of aging. Get a thorough eye exam to see if it can be fixed.

Cataracts are a common cause of decreased vision but are very successfully treated with cataract removal/lens implant surgery. (See the cataract chapter for details).

Glaucoma becomes increasingly common with age as well. With early detection, proper treatment, and regular monitoring, your vision can be maintained in most cases. (See the glaucoma chapter for details).

Age Related Macular degeneration (AMD) is an accelerated aging change of the central retina with thinning and degeneration of tissues. The central retina is responsible for fine, detailed, central vision such as reading, sewing, etc. AMD is the most common cause of severe vision loss in those over 65 and may become increasingly more common as the population's life expectancy increases.

Dry AMD develops slowly and causes gradual central distortion with mild to moderate vision loss. Wet AMD accounts for only 5% to 10% of cases but results in a more rapid to severe vision loss. In wet AMD, abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina, leak fluid and blood, and cause scarring that can result in a large blind spot in your central vision.

Many ophthalmologists believe that vitamin/mineral supplements can help slow the progress of AMD. It appears that zinc and antioxidants are most helpful. Although not completely proven, I do recommend that my patients with AMD, and their immediate relatives, take multivitamin/mineral supplements long term.

Laser treatment can be used to cauterize vessels in wet AMD. A new photodynamic dye therapy combines laser treatment with injection of a sensitizing dye to improve beneficial effects while lessening side effects to laser treatment.

Family history is an important risk factor in AMD. If you have a mother, father, brother, or sister with AMD, please get a complete eye exam.

Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is not specifically seen in the elderly, but it becomes increasingly common the longer one has diabetes. In fact, DR is one of the most common causes of blindness in working-age Americans.

DR begins with damaged blood vessels in the retina leaking fluid or blood, causing the retina to swell (edema). The symptom of mild blurring of the central vision progresses gradually. If vessels bleed extensively into the fluid filling the eye (vitreous hemorrhage), spots or clouds will be seen in the vision.

In mild cases, laser treatments can help stabilize and even improve your vision. With vitreous hemorrhage, surgery is sometimes needed to clear the blood from the eye. In severe cases, DR can result in scarring and traction on the retina, resulting in retinal detachment, which also requires surgical repair.

All diabetics need a yearly eye exam (recommended by the American Diabetes Association) to look for early signs of leaking blood vessels. A series of photographs taken over 10 minutes as an injected fluorescent dye circulates through the eye (fluorescein angiogram) is most helpful in evaluating how much leakage the vessels have and will help predict whether laser treatment would be helpful. These fluorescein angiograms and retinal laser treatments are all done right in the office of Advanced Eye Care.

If you are a diabetic, keep your blood sugar under good control and always get your annual eye exam.

Ben Hasty, M.D.
Panama City Cataracts, Glaucoma, Diabetic Retinopathy
2500 West 23rd Street
Panama City, FL   32405