Aging eye problems are a fact of life for adults growing older just like wrinkles, slowing metabolism and graying hair. Eventually, your eyes are affected by age so it’s important to understand how your eyes change with age and what you can do to preserve your eye health and vision. Some aging eye changes and problems are expected and normal and others indicate the presence of eye diseases that need to be detected, diagnosed and treated or changes that need to be addressed to preserve vision. For these reasons having regular eye exams at the intervals recommended by your eye doctor is key-especially after the age of 40 years old.

Presbyopia

Beginning in the late 30s and early 40s, the crystalline lens in your eye loses flexibility, making it difficult to focus and read up close. Your “arms seem “too short.” This condition is called presbyopia, which literally means “aging eye”, and is most often treated with reading glasses, progressive lenses or bifocals depending on how you need to use your eyes for various tasks throughout the day, for work or recreation.

Dry Eye

Dry eye often develops with age and is a common problem for women during pregnancy and menopause. These hormonal changes cause changes in the eye’s tear production. Certain medications can also cause dry eye. If you have dry eye, you may be prone to an eyelid irritation called blepharitis, a common cause of irritation or swelling of the eyelids. The cause of your dry eye-either too few tears being produced or too rapid evaporation of tears will need to be diagnosed and then your eye doctor can prescribe a range of treatments including eye drops that add artificial tears, prescription eye drops that help you make more of your own tears called Restasis®, tiny punctal plugs to help you retain more of your own tears, anti-inflammatory eye drops and many other treatment options to get you help for dry eye symptoms and discomfort.

Diabetic Retinopathy

People in their 50s, 60s and 70s with diabetes are most at risk for this disease. Diabetic retinopathy occurs when the small blood vessels inside the retina swell, leak fluid or close off completely due to damage from elevated blood sugar levels. But, you can take steps to prevent diabetic retinopathy with tight control of blood sugar, low fat diets, regular exercise and controlling blood pressure levels. It is also critical to see your eye doctor regularly for diabetic eye exams as with early detection, diagnosis and treatment the vision loss from diabetic retinopathy can be slowed and often prevented.

Cataracts

Cataracts are very common in older people. As you age, proteins in your crystalline lens begin to clump together and cause the lens to be cloudy. This is the development of a cataract where the lens has become less transparent, causing blurry, cloudy or dim vision and increased glare and haloes around lights. Many people with the condition describe it as similar to looking out of dirty windshield. Cataracts can interfere with daily activities like driving at night and distinguishing colors. While treatment of early cataracts with changes in eyeglass prescription may provide some benefit, the only really effective treatment for cataracts is cataract surgery where the cloudy lens is removed and replaced with a permanent artificial lens implant which can correct the cataract as well as nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism and even presbyopia.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a disease of the optic nerve that damages the fibers that transmit visual information to the brain. This damage often leads to loss of side vision or peripheral vision. If left untreated, glaucoma will certainly lead to progressive vision loss and ultimately total blindness. Glaucoma is most common in people age 55 and older. One of the problems with glaucoma, especially the most common type of glaucoma, called chronic open-angle glaucoma, is that there are typically no symptoms in the early stages. Many people who have the disease do not know they have it. This is why it is important, especially as you get older, to have regular medical eye exams at intervals that depend on your risk factors-such as smoking, sleep apnea, age, diabetes, high blood pressure, early menopause-as recommended by your eye doctor. 

Floaters and Flashes

As people grow older, the gel, called the Vitreous-that fills the inside their eye starts to shrink, forming clumps, liquid or strands. These strands and clumps can appear as “floaters” that appear as small specks or lines moving in your field of vision. As it shrinks, the gel can also pull away from the back wall of the eye, causing you to see “flashes” which appear as flashing lights or lightning streaks in your vision. While this is normally harmless, in some cases it can lead to retinal detachment and cause serious vision loss and even blindness. If you experience new floaters and flashes, it’s important to see your eye doctor as soon as possible, especially if you are over age 45, are nearsighted or have had eye injuries in the past.

Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

AMD is a senior eye problem that affects the central vision, limiting a person’s ability to read and recognize faces. This can be caused by a thinning and deterioration of the macula which is the center of the retina or by the growth of abnormal blood vessels under the retina. AMD can lead to blindness if not treated and it continues to be the leading cause of blindness in Americans over 65. Fortunately with early detection, diagnosis and treatment, vision loss from AMD is preventable or at least manageable so that we can reduce vision loss and in many cases, recover vision.

If you or someone you know is concerned about ageing eye problems such as presbyopia, dry eye, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, age related macular degeneration (AMD) or cataracts please call The Eye Clinic of Texas, an affiliate of Houston Eye Associates, at 800-423-3937, visit The Eye Clinic of Texas, Google+  or facebook.com/ecot.lasik.

The Eye Clinic of Texas is an affiliate of Houston Eye Associates, the largest ophthalmology clinic in the nation. We are a leading eye care practice serving the greater Houston, Galveston, League City and Texas City with offices at 1100 Gulf Freeway, Suite 114, League City, Texas 77573, 7111 Medical Center Drive, Suite 110, Texas City, Texas 77590 and 2302 Avenue P, Galveston, Texas.

Having a basic familiarity with the risk factors for age related macular degeneration (AMD) is important for patients-especially seniors-as AMD is a leading cause of severe vision loss among Americans ages 65 and over. The key to preventing vision loss from age related macular degeneration is early detection, diagnosis and treatment as recommended by your eye doctor.

Know the Top AMD Risks

  • Being over the Age of 60
  • Having a Family History of AMD
  • Cigarette Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Hypertension

If you have any two of these risk factors, you should schedule an appointment for a complete eye exam and evaluation. Based on your eye exam and risk factors we may recommend certain preventive measures which can reduce your risk of vision loss from this disorder.

There are some AMD risk factors that can positively impact by making good lifestyle choices. These include not smoking, eating a heart healthy low fat diet rich in green leafy vegetables and limiting alcohol consumption. Some choices may not be possible such as reducing the long term use of aspirin. For patients at high risk for developing late stage AMD, taking a dietary supplement of vitamin C, vitamin E and beta carotene, along with zinc, has been shown to lower the risk of AMD advancing to advanced stages by 25 percent. Other risk factors such as genetic factors cannot be changed. However, knowing your family medical history is one way to learn whether you may be genetically predisposed to a disease.

Know the Symptoms of Wet AMD

With early detection, diagnosis and treatment with Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) Inhibitor injections such as Lucentis® and Eylea® it is possible to avoid or minimize vision loss from Wet AMD. People who are at risk should know the symptoms of Wet AMD, as this type of AMD is the most likely to cause sudden, rapid, serious and even catastrophic vision loss. Symptoms of wet AMD can include sudden, noticeable loss or distortion of vision, such as seeing “wavy” lines, “distortion”, “bending of straight lines and objects”, or even “distortion of facial features”.

If you experience any of these symptoms, please call The Eye Clinic of Texas right away and explain your symptoms and request an immediate appointment. Current treatments for Wet AMD provide an excellent chance of stopping vision loss and may actually restore some vision when macular degeneration develops. Earlier diagnosis of wet AMD gives a better chance of successful treatment.

If you or someone you know has questions or needs to schedule an appointment, please call The Eye Clinic of Texas, an affiliate of Houston Eye Associates, at 800-423-3937, visit The Eye Clinic of Texas or facebook.com/ecot.lasik.

The Eye Clinic of Texas is an affiliate of Houston Eye Associates, the largest ophthalmology clinic in the nation. We are a leading eye care practice serving the greater Houston, Galveston, League City and Texas City with offices at 1100 Gulf Freeway, Suite 114, League City, Texas 77573, 7111 Medical Center Drive, Suite 110, Texas City, Texas 77590 and 2302 Avenue P, Galveston, Texas.

Genetic testing for many diseases-including eye diseases-is becoming available to more and patients today. Houston patients concerned about their risks of AMD are asking whether they should have genetic testing for AMD. While the presence of specific genes may indicate a increased for age related macular degeneration (AMD), according to researchers commenting in  Ophthalmology routine genetic testing to predict the development of age related macular degeneration (AMD) does not really predict how a person would respond to Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) Inhibitor injections such as Lucentis® or Eyelea® and thus the genetic testing is not recommended. Further, the downside of routine genetic testing at present is that it can cause unnecessary anxiety, it can leave patients with promises that are not fulfilled and it may impact insurability and employability.

If you or someone you know has questions about genetic testing for age related macular degeneration (AMD) should please call The Eye Clinic of Texas, an affiliate of Houston Eye Associates, at 800-423-3937, visit The Eye Clinic of Texas or facebook.com/ecot.lasik to schedule an appointment.

The Eye Clinic of Texas is an affiliate of Houston Eye Associates, the largest ophthalmology clinic in the nation. We are a leading eye care practice serving the greater Houston, Galveston, League City and Texas City with offices at 1100 Gulf Freeway, Suite 114, League City, Texas 77573, 7111 Medical Center Drive, Suite 110, Texas City, Texas 77590 and 2302 Avenue P, Galveston, Texas.

Understanding age related macular degeneration (AMD) is important for seniors, anyone over 50 with a family history of macular degeneration and those with known risk factors such as vascular disease, use of aspirin, high levels of alcohol consumption and those people with higher fat diets. More than 2 million people age 50 and older have late AMD which represents a considerable increase from just 10 years ago. This may be due to the aging of the U.S. population with the baby boomers wanting but being unable to maintain the lifestyle they wish due to AMD.

Types of Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) & Vision Loss
AMD causes central vision to blur, but leaves peripheral vision intact. It is progressive and painless. There are two types of AMD, a “Dry” form and a “Wet” form. It is estimated that 85-90% of people with AMD have the Dry form which results in a gradual vision loss. Fortunately, only 10 percent of people with AMD have the Wet form which progresses much quicker and can cause catastrophic vision loss.

Treatment of Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
While there is limited treatment warranted for Dry AMD as it is only slowly progressive, the successful treatment of Wet AMD requires early detection, quick diagnosis and then immediate access to treatment with vascular endothelial growth inhibitor (VEGF) injections such as Lucentis® and Eylea®.

Reducing the Risk of AMD & Vision Loss from AMD
The key to preventing vision loss from AMD is clearly early detection, diagnosis and intervention. Time is of the essence as once hemorrhaging has affected the macula-vision loss from scarring is catastrophic. Patients can often reduce their risk of developing AMD by not smoking as well as working to eat a heart-healthy diet rich in fish, fruit and green leafy vegetables, avoiding foods with Trans fats, exercising and controlling blood pressure and weight.

If you or someone you know has questions about age related macular degeneration (AMD), the risk of AMD or the need for early detection, diagnosis & treatment of age related macular degeneration should please call The Eye Clinic of Texas, an affiliate of Houston Eye Associates, at 800-423-3937, visit The Eye Clinic of Texas or facebook.com/ecot.lasik to schedule an appointment.

The Eye Clinic of Texas is an affiliate of Houston Eye Associates, the largest ophthalmology clinic in the nation. We are a leading eye care practice serving the greater Houston, Galveston, League City and Texas City with offices at 1100 Gulf Freeway, Suite 114, League City, Texas 77573, 7111 Medical Center Drive, Suite 110, Texas City, Texas 77590 and 2302 Avenue P, Galveston, Texas.

Allan Fradkin, M.D. commented on how the application of optical physics might be helpful to patients with AMD, or age related macular degeneration, in regaining some functioning vision to overcome the visual distortion caused by AMD. “While the key to maintaining eye health and vision as we age-especially regarding macular degeneration-is having regular eye exams, there are still a growing number of patients who experience a disturbing distortion and twisting of their vision resulting from macular degeneration,” explained Dr. Fradkin.

Nobel Laureate Walter Kohn described a potential application of what is a dynamic “translator” for the particular distortion a patient experiences either in handheld computers or an optical corrective lens. “We routinely use the Amsler Grid, a graph-paper-like pattern to diagnose AMD-Dr. Kohn suggested that the Amsler grid could also be used to develop an optical correction,” said Dr. Fradkin.

When people with healthy eyes look at the Amsler Grid, they see its straight horizontal and vertical lines, with a dot at center.  Patients with AMD, however, often perceive a distortion about two or three centimeters in diameter in the center.

amsler-grid

Dr. Kohn has initiated the development of software that lets an AMD patient, using a mouse, pull the virtual lines until he or she perceives the grid as “perfect,” yielding reversal of the specific distortion a person experiences. Dr. Kohn then uses these results to create a correction for that patient. In one experimental device, a handheld computer scans the printed page, using software to perform dynamic compensation, distorting the text to make it readable for patients. In addition, Dr. Kohn uses of a slab of optical material to fabricate the visual correction so that AMD patients could hold the optical slab of refractive material over text, pictures or reading material, just like the magnifying glass people use for seeing small type—only the surface of Kohn’s slab resembles ocean currents or waves that reverse the distortion.

If you or someone you know would like to learn more about how optical physics may provide help for AMD patients with visual distortion, please call The Eye Clinic of Texas at 800-423-3937, visit The Eye Clinic of Texas or facebook.com/ecot.lasik to schedule an appointment.

The Eye Clinic of Texas is an affiliate of Houston Eye Associates, the largest ophthalmology clinic in the nation. We are a leading eye care practice serving the greater Houston, Galveston, League City and Texas City with offices at 7155 Old Katy Road, Houston, Texas 77024, 1100 Gulf Freeway, Suite 114, League City, Texas 77573, 7111 Medical Center Drive, Suite 110, Texas City, Texas 77590 and 2302 Avenue P, Galveston, Texas 77550 that provide all aspects of general, medical, surgical, laser and optical eye care services.

“What does your risk of having a stroke have to do with age related macular degeneration?” asked Ophthalmologist Bernard Milstein, M.D. of The Eye Clinic of Texas with offices serving greater Houston & Galveston. Possibly quite a bit as it turns out. Older adults with late-stage, age related macular degeneration (AMD) may have a significantly higher risk for hemorrhagic stroke than do individuals without the eye disease, as reported from the Rotterdam Study at the International Stroke Conference. There may be a common underlying process contributing to both Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and bleeding strokes, but more research will be needed to determine if that’s the case. Researchers found that the risk for any stroke was 56% higher in participants with late-stage AMD than in individuals without AMD after they controlled for the effects of age, sex, diabetes, blood pressure, use of antihypertensive medication, smoking, cholesterol levels, carotid artery plaques, body mass index, alcohol intake, and C-reactive protein levels.

“The single most significant finding in the study was that participants with late-stage AMD-either the wet or dry forms-had six fold higher risk for intracerebral hemorrhage or stroke than did participants without AMD,” noted Dr. Milstein.”This is a critical piece of information and one we need to be responsive to and keep patients and their physicians abreast of.”

If you or someone you know suffers from or is concerned about age related macular degeneration (AMD), especially if they are concerned about their risk of stroke or have a family history of stroke please feel free to schedule an eye exam by calling please call The Eye Clinic of Texas at 800-423-3937, visit The Eye Clinic of Texas or facebook.com/ecot.lasik to schedule an appointment.

The Eye Clinic of Texasis an affiliate of Houston Eye Associates, the largest ophthalmology clinic in the nation. We are a leading eye care practice serving the greater Houston, Galveston, League City and Texas City with offices at 7155 Katy Road, Houston, Texas 77573, 1100 Gulf Freeway, Suite 114, League City, Texas 77573, 711 Medical Center Drive, Suite 110, Texas City, Texas 77590 and 2302 Avenue P, Galveston, Texas 77550 that provide all aspects of general, medical, surgical, laser and optical eye care services.

Patients having eye exams in Houston who are told that they have “Bear Tracks”, “Retina Freckles” or “Pigment Spots” should be aware that there may actually have an increased need for colonoscopy to screen for polyps and colon cancer. You may wonder what having a colonoscopy for colon cancer risk possibly have to do with your eyes?  As it turns out-plenty! The retinal pigmented epithelium (RPE) is a layer of the retina which can sometimes be thicker than normal at birth-or “hypertrophic”. “During regular eye exams when we find these areas of retinal pigmented epithelial hypertrophy they typically they do not cause any vision problems or symptoms and are pretty unremarkable,” commented Houston eye specialist Dr. Da-Thuy Van an Ophthalmologist at The Eye Clinic of Texas.

Congenital Retinal Pigment Epithelial Hypertrophy (CHRPE) is usually found before patients reach 30 years of age and although they may enlarge with time they usually do not lead to malignancies like colon cancer. However, there is an association between people with Gardner’s Syndrome-Familial Colonic Polyposes-or polyps of the colon, and CHRPE. If your eye doctor has told you that you have Congenital Retinal Pigment Epithelial Hypertrophy-perhaps called “Bear Tracks” or “Pigment Spots” or “Retina Freckles”, it is important to carefully explore and review your family history reasonable with a Gastroenterologist who will likely schedule you for a colonoscopy. CHRPE has a “statistically significant” correlation with hereditary colon polyps known as Familial Adenomatous Polyposis, or FAP. It may be that the freckles are caused by the same genetic mutation that produces the polyps. A study published in 2010 in the American Journal of Gastroenterology concluded that patients with such freckles should be referred for colonoscopies.

Thus-when we are over 50 years of age, the reasons to have yearly eye exams includes not only detecting cataracts, glaucoma, age related macular degeneration (AMD) and other eye diseases, but regular eye examinations may very well be a reminder to be screened via colonoscopy to help detect early risks and potential indicators of colon cancer.

If you or someone you know would like to learn more about Congenital Retinal Pigment Epithelial Hypertrophy (CHRPE) please call The Eye Clinic of Texas at 800-423-3937, visit The Eye Clinic of Texas or facebook.com/ecot.lasik to schedule an appointment.

The Eye Clinic of Texas is an affiliate of Houston Eye Associates, the largest ophthalmology clinic in the nation. We are a leading eye care practice serving the greater Houston, Galveston, League City and Texas City area that provides all aspects of general, medical, surgical, laser and optical eye care services. Our Board Certified Ophthalmologists perform Laser Eye Surgery such as LASIK, Cataract Surgery & Lens Implants using advanced technology IOLs to correct complex problems such as astigmatism and near vision focusing problems including presbyopia, diagnosis and management of glaucoma, diagnosis and management of diabetic retinopathy, diagnosis and management of Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and Pediatric Ophthalmology. Texas EyeWear at The Eye Clinic of Texas provides personalized consultation and fitting of eyeglasses and eyeglass lenses for greater Houston, Galveston, League City and Texas City area patients.

Dr. Da-Thuy Van
Dr. Da-Thuy Van

“As we enter the 2013 National Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) Awareness Month, we ask Houston patients to take a moment and consider how they can help preserve their eye health and vision with a better familiarity of AMD”, said Houston eye specialist Dr. Da-Thuy Van of The Clinic of Texas. It is estimated that more than 2 million people age 50 and older have late AMD (Age Related Macular Degeneration) which represents a 25 percent increase between 2000 and 2012.  “It’s not surprising that the number of people affected by macular degeneration continues to grow, especially due to the aging baby boomer population,” said Dr. Van.  “In the past, we were pretty much only able to give patients with Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) bad news about their vision and prognosis. Today, for most patients, with early detection, diagnosis and treatment, at a minimum we can prevent further vision loss from the disease and in many cases we can actually help recover lost vision,” she further explained.

What to Know About Age Related Macular Degeneration

AMD causes central vision to blur, but leaves peripheral vision intact. It is progressive and painless. There are two types of AMD, a “Dry” form and a “Wet” form. It is estimated that 85-90% of people with AMD have the Dry form which results in a gradual vision loss. Fortunately, only 10 percent of people with AMD have the Wet form which progresses much quicker and can cause catastrophic vision loss. Wet AMD is characterized by the growth of abnormal retinal blood vessels that leak blood or fluid. Leaking or bleeding vessels leads to swelling and bleeding in the Macula, causing visual distortions or decreased vision. Over time, this can lead to scarring in the Macula and create damage that may result in the loss of central vision. Patients can often reduce their risk of developing AMD by not smoking as well as working to eat a heart-healthy diet rich in fish, fruit and green leafy vegetables, avoiding foods with Trans fats, exercising and controlling blood pressure and weight.

“What patients need to be aware of is that once you are over 50, it becomes increasingly important to have a thorough, comprehensive dilated eye exam every one to two years-and even more often if you have any family history of AMD or at the recommendation of your eye doctor. The key to preventing vision loss from AMD is clearly early detection, quick diagnosis and then immediate access to treatment with vascular endothelial growth inhibitor (VEGF) injections such as Lucentis®.” summarized Dr. Van.

If you or someone you know would like to learn more about age related macular degeneration (AMD), please call The Eye Clinic of Texas at 800-423-3937, visit The Eye Clinic of Texas or facebook.com/ecot.lasik to schedule an appointment. 

The Eye Clinic of Texas is an affiliate of Houston Eye Associates, the largest ophthalmology group in the nation. We are a leading eye care practice serving the greater Houston, Galveston, League City and Texas City area that provides all aspects of general, medical, surgical, laser and optical eye care services. Our Board Certified Ophthalmologists perform Laser Eye Surgery such as LASIK, Cataract Surgery & Lens Implants using advanced technology IOLs to correct complex problems such as astigmatism and near vision focusing problems including presbyopia, diagnosis and management of glaucoma, diagnosis and management of diabetic retinopathy, diagnosis and management of Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and Pediatric Ophthalmology. Texas EyeWear at The Eye Clinic of Texas provides personalized consultation and fitting of eyeglasses and eyeglass lenses for greater Houston, Galveston, League City and Texas City area patients.