Eye Issues - Good News for Older Folks
By Cynthia MacGregor / January 1, 2013

In light of National Eye Care Month, we wondered: what are the vision problems that can occur in people of middle age and older? What's new in the treatment of eye issues? We spoke to a Broward County ophthalmologist and a Palm Beach County optometrist. Dr. William Rand of the Rand Eye Institute in Deerfield Beach and Dr. Raymond Schwartz of Palm Springs both graciously took time from their busy practices to answer these and other questions.

Dr. Rand says there are two types of problems that can occur in middle age and beyond: the normal effects of aging and diseases of the eyes. Of this latter group of problems, the most common culprits are glaucoma, macular degeneration, and cataracts. In terms of normal effects of aging, he tells us that, around 40, many people notice they can't read as well, even if they have good distance vision. Presbyopia is "old vision."

In lasik treatment, a laser is used to correct the vision, so that the individual can see well without lenses (eyeglasses or contacts). One of the newest advances, however, is flapless lasik, a procedure that works on the surface of the lens.
It's "lasik without the flap," in the words of Dr. Rand, and the whole procedure takes a mere fifteen minutes.

Over the age of 40, the lens doesn't focus well. But the human lens can be exchanged for an artificial one, with special implants that affect both near and far distances. Known as multi-focal lenses, they are implanted in the eye, are crystal clear, and will last a lifetime, allowing the person to see well without glasses. The procedure has become exceptionally improved in just the last year.

The new LenSx laser, which works for both presbyopia and cataracts, has changed the whole field, and the Rand Institute is one of the largest centers in the country performing this remarkable new procedure.

It is also possible now to stop the advance of macular degeneration for many people, which never was true before. As well, it is now rare for people to go blind from glaucoma. It is still a dangerous condition, but, with proper treatment, it can be dealt with successfully. We asked Dr. Rand what causes macular degeneration. He explained that the macula is the most important part of the nerve in the back of the eye -- the retina, which gives us the ability to read. That ability is lost, if the macula wears out. The problem is usually age-related, and there may be a genetic connection as well.

Dr. Schwartz says that cataracts and macular degeneration are "the biggest sight robbers in middle age." Now that we're living longer than ever and have more active lifestyles, these problems, along with glaucoma, are becoming more noticeable than before.

In macular degeneration, central vision is lost first, while the peripheral vision is still functional. It occurs as the result of a breakdown of cellular tissue and blood circulation of the central retina, due to aging. Dr. Schwartz is a great believer in preventive medicine, as well as in an overall healthy lifestyle, which helps the vision and other aspects of health. He counsels his patients that, to avoid eye problems, it helps to exercise, eat right, and take multi-vitamins, which should include vitamin C, vitamin E, lurein, copper, zinc, beta-carotene, and lycopene.

There are two types of macular degeneration, known as "wet" and "dry." The wet form is more destructive, but can be treated. The treatment will not return vision to normal, but can keep it from getting worse. Symptoms of macular degeneration include a gradual loss of central vision and some distortion in shapes and straight lines.

A cataract occurs when the natural lens, situated behind the iris, becomes cloudy, causing hazy, blurred vision and spots. The development of cataracts can be slowed with a good healthy lifestyle, including, again, exercise, good nutrition, and multi-vitamins.

Lesser problems involving the eyes include dry eye, a natural breakdown of tear chemicals that comes with age, and also lid diseases. Of these, one of the most common is blepharitis, an inflammation of the glands that line the eyelids. Symptoms include redness of the eyes, a burning sensation, scratchiness, and excessive tearing, even though it's a dry eye condition, as well as the sensation of a foreign body in the eye. The treatment consists of medicines and artificial tears.

Now that we are living longer than ever, it makes sense that we would want to live life to the fullest. Certainly, healthy vision is a necessity for that.

9381 West Sample Road , Suite 203
Coral Springs, FL 33065
Phone: 954-755-9800
Fax: 954-755-2082

© Copyright theParklander, All Rights Reserved.