Geriatric Eye Health
Cataracts are the most common cause of blindness throughout the world (Quillen). Twenty percent of older adults have a cataract and fifty percent of adults after age seventy-four have a cataract (“Vision”). Cataracts become much more common as age increases. Less than five percent of persons under the age of sixty-five (Quillen), twenty percent of older adults, and fifty percent of adults over the age of seventy-four (“Vision”). Each eye has a lens that helps the eye focus images. The lens is made of protein and as a person ages the protein builds up on the lens (Stibich). This causes the lens to appear cloudy or opaque (“Vision”). This cloudiness may make it seem like the person is looking out of a frosted or yellowed window. Besides blurred vision, cataracts are accompanied by other symptoms such as: glare, light sensitivity, poor night vision, double vision, a need for brighter light to read, and fading or yellowing of colors. Cataracts can be detected by an eye care professional, like an optometrist or ophthalmologist (“American”). The progression of cataracts is typically slow (Quillen). Eyeglasses or contact lenses can aid vision if the cataracts have not progressed very far (“Vision”). If the cataracts have progressed, the cataract will need to be removed by surgery to improve vision. Surgery is suggested when the cataract is developed enough to interfere with the persons job or his or her ability to drive, read, or perform other daily tasks comfortably (“American”). Cataract surgery is easily available, safe, and effective in treating cataracts (Quillen). About 1.5 million cataract surgeries are performed each year in the United States. The surgery usually takes less than fifteen minutes and is done under local or topical anesthesia (“Vision”). Cataract surgery is a very low risk procedure. Ninety percent of patients notice improved vision following cataract surgery (Quillen).
American Academy of Opthalmology. (2007). Eye disease on the rise among older Americans, few realize risk [Press release]. Retrieved from http://www.aao.org/newsroom/
Quillen, D., M.D. (1999, July 1). Common causes of vision loss in elderly patients. American Family Physician, 60(1), 99-108. Retrieved from http://www.aafp.org/afp/1999/0701/
Stibich, M., Ph.D. (2007, May 24). Aging and eye diseases. Retrieved January 18, 2012, from about.com website: http://longevity.about.com/od/healthyagingandlongevity/ a/aging_eyes.htm Vision loss and other eye diseases. (2005, April 1). Retrieved January 18, 2012, from American
Geriatrics Society website: http://www.healthinaging.org/agingintheknow/chapters_ch_trial.asp?ch=26