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Age Related Ocular Changes

Friday, May 05, 2017


One of the purposes of this Friday Pearl column is to use this space to remind our readers about the importance of regular eye exams by an eye care professional. Harvard Medical School published a fabulous booklet a few years ago called The Aging Eye. We believe it appropriate to occasionally point out the booklet highlights for our readers.

Just as hair turns gray with age, bladders weaken and memories lapse, our eyes, too, undergo a metamorphosis. Although these changes are all part of normal aging, some changes can set the stage for more serious ocular problems.

As our eyes age, eyelid muscles weaken and skin becomes more flaccid. This can cause the upper eyelid to droop or the lower lid to sag. Eyelashes and eyebrows may lose their lushness and thin out considerably.

"Tear production also drops off, and the oily film that tears provide decreases as lubricating glands in the conjunctiva, the membrane covering the sclera (white part of the eye) age. These changes can lead to a buildup of mucous, resulting in stickiness, or make the cornea dry, causing irritation or an uncomfortable, gritty sensation in the eye.

"The conjunctiva turns thinner and more fragile with age and takes on a yellowish tinge from an increase in the elastic fibers. The sclera may also assume a yellowish hue from a collection of lipid, or fat, deposits. Calcium may be deposited in the sclera, leading to patches of grayish translucency. The exposed conjunctiva between the lids begins to degenerate, and the cornea can develop an opaque white ring around its edge.

"With time, the crystalline lens hardens and loses its elasticity. This makes it more difficult to focus on near objects, a common condition called presbyopia. You might also find that your night vision grows poorer. These changes usually occur simultaneously in both eyes.

"The picture painted above is not pretty, but the good news is an eye doctor can help lessen the effect of these normal aging ocular processes. We strongly recommend regular eye checkups, but the warning signs below should never be ignored."

Warning signs that warrant an eye doctor visit

See an eye care professional if you experience any of the following symptoms or problems with your eyes:

• Change in iris color
• Crossed eyes
• Dark spot in the center of your field of vision
• Difficulty focusing on near or distant objects
• Double vision
• Dry eyes with itching or burning
• Episodes of cloudy vision
• Excess discharge or tearing
• Eye pain
• Floaters or flashers
• Growing bump on the eyelid
• Halos (circles around lights) or glare
• Hazy or blurred vision
• Inability to close eyelid
• Loss of peripheral vision
• Redness around the eye
• Spots in your field of vision
• Sudden loss of vision
• Trouble adjusting to dark rooms
• Unusual sensitivity to light or glare
• Veil obstructing vision
• Wavy or crooked appearance to straight lines.

Ellen Troyer with Spencer Thornton, MD, David Amess and the Biosyntrx staff

 

PEARL: Vision is too important to put off seeing your eye care professional for a yearly checkup for those of you over the age of 50, and at least every other year for those under 50.

A growing body of science now suggests that smart phone telemedicine can improve access to basic and more eye health exams, particularly for rural patients with the appropriate software on their phones.


Pilot studies are showing excellent percentage agreement between the screening protocol and the face-to-face exam for those who find it too difficult to travel to visit an eye care professional every year. This technology is also of particular interest to our ophthalmology friends who desire consultative opinions when providing ophthalmic surgical care to the underserved in developing nations.

Magic can happen when we combine advanced technology with True North medical humanity. 

 

Ellen Troyer, with Spencer Thornton, MD, David Amess and the Biosyntrx staff



PEARL

Vision is too important to put off seeing your eye care professional for a yearly checkup for those of you over the age of 50, and at least every other year for those under 50.

A growing body of science now suggests that smart phone telemedicine can improve access to eye care services, particularly for rural patients with the appropriate software on their phones. Pilot studies are showing excellent percentage agreement between the screening protocol and the face to face exam for those who find it too difficult to travel to visit an eye care professional every year. This technology is also of particular interest to our ophthalmology friends who desire consultative opinions when providing ophthalmic surgical care to the under-served in developing nations.

Magic can happen when we combine advanced technology with True North medical humanity.










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Bibliography

Clinical references available in the Biosyntrx office.