We can lie all we want about our ages and buy all the anti-wrinkle cream in the world, but the truth remains: we all age. Every living creature since the beginning of time has aged. It’s just the process of life. And that includes our eyes. What are the most common eye diseases we need to worry about as we get older?
As we age, our bodies begin to wither from the wear and tear of a fulfilling an active life. This also includes the eyes. Our eyes are constantly in use. Even in times when our bodies are lounging on the couch and taking a break, our eyes are on high alert. Naturally, they can age faster than the rest of our bodies.
There are three vision conditions that are of particular concern among the elderly (those above the age of 60): glaucoma, cataracts, and age-related macular degeneration. These conditions are related to the aging of our eyes and until now doctors and patients alike have accepted these conditions to just be a normal part of life.
Currently, there are treatments to aid with living with these eye diseases, but no cure. However, doctors are hopeful as new technology is being developed every day. Two newest treatments for the diseases (and maybe one day, cures) are an injection and eye drops.
The Diseases: Macular Degeneration, Cataracts and Glaucoma
To understand this new technology, we first need to understand a little more about the three age-related diseases that affect almost everyone of a certain age.
First up we have age-related macular degeneration. As its name suggests, the disease affects the macula, which is a small part of the eye in the retina. The macula contains millions of light-sensitive cells that are received and transmitted to the brain to be turned into a comprehensive image.
When the macula is damaged by degeneration of the cells, it can cause blurry and spotted central vision. The progress of the loss of sight depends on each individual. Some experience rapid central vision loss, while it progresses more slowly in others. Macular degeneration does not lead to complete blindness as it does not affect peripheral vision.
Next are cataracts, which affect almost everyone in old age. Cataracts are the clouding of the lens in the eye. This happens when protein in the eye builds up and gets pushed back and essentially clumps together. When this happens, the lens is no longer transparent and it leads to blurred central vision.
Finally, we have glaucoma, which is a disease that damages the optic nerve and overtime causes vision loss. The main cause for the damage is due to too much intraocular pressure in the eye. This pressure happens when fluids in the eye are not circulating through it normally.
Glaucoma often shows no symptoms, which makes it hard for people to detect it. For this reason, it is important to have your eye doctor test for it with an eye exam. When glaucoma goes untreated, it can lead to permanent blindness in a short period of time.
As of right now, there are no cures for any of these age-related diseases. There exist only treatments to slow progress of the disease in patients and to help them preserve what sight they may have left.
Currents Treatments and Future Cures for Eye Diseases
Cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration are often treated using laser or other types of surgery. This can be daunting for some, especially those who are rightfully skeptical about eye surgery. Eye surgery, though an easy option, sometimes can result in the disease returning or the creation of new diseases (secondary cataracts can form after an eye surgery gone wrong).
It’s safe to say that we need new forms of treatments that aren’t as invasive and ineffective. Luckily, science is on our side. As researchers strive to find new, more natural cures for long-dreaded eye disease, we can all hope for them to come to fruition in the near future.
For both cataracts and glaucoma, special eye drops seem to be the way of the future. Glaucoma patients can luckily already benefit from special eye drops to help them retain their vision. To be used once or twice a day, these eye drops have been effectively treating glaucoma with a 95 percent success rate.
While these eye drops serve to only treat glaucoma, there is talk that one day, these same eye drops will be used to cure the disease.
As for cataracts, new eye drops are in testing stages that will be used to dissolve the protein buildup on the lens. Tests on dogs with cataracts proved to be successful. Now the eye drops will be taken to human trials, then hopefully they will become widely available to all who suffer from cataracts.
The potential cure for macular degeneration takes a slightly different approach. Doctors have discovered an injection that is injected monthly into the patient’s eye. These injections are done until the patient’s vision shows improvement. Though it isn’t a cure just yet, these injections have proven to drastically slow down the disease’s progression.
For those in the early stages of macular degeneration, there may be no need to feel worried or trapped by the disease as people have in the past. A mix of vitamins may be the solution to decreasing your macular degeneration.
A multivitamin called AREDS is a mix of vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, and cooper. In the trials done, this multivitamin showed signs of being able to halt the progression of macular degeneration in the early stages. AREDS can reduce the risk of the disease progressing by 25 percent, according to the National Eye Institute.
If you’re in need of a multivitamin, you may want to consider AREDS or our Ocu-Plus Formula, which contains 17 essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients for optimal eye health.
In today’s digital age, new technology is springing up everywhere. Technological advancements are no longer things that take years and years to develop. We can print in 3-D for crying out loud!
That being said, we won’t need to wait for a cure to these diseases for too much longer. Doctors and scientists are on the cusp of finding the right cures with the right technology.