Is your eyesight failing? Here’s what to do about it

Ageing is a common cause of deteriorating eyesight, but there may be other reasons why you’re struggling to read.

Retinitis pigmentosa

Retinitis pigmentosa is an inherited condition. The retina, a layer of nerves at the back of the eye, do not respond to light properly Quick to YouTube. This can cause vision loss over time.

Prevention: Retinitis pigmentosa cannot be prevented.

Treatment: Research into treatment for the disease is ongoing. A recent breakthrough has suggested gene therapy may work for this condition.

Eye infections

Infectious keratitis

This infection can occur after an eye injury, such as a  scratch, and can also occur in those with diabetes who are more prone to eye infections.

Bacterial keratitis can sometimes happen in those who swim while wearing their contact lenses. Left untreated, the condition can progress rapidly with the loss of vision or even losing the eye!

Prevention: Eye infections can be prevented through good hygiene, keeping contact lenses clean and avoiding contact with infected people. In those with diabetes, managing blood sugar levels helps prevent infections.

Treatment: Most eye infections are treated with antibiotics..

Cataracts

Cataracts are very common amongst the elderly. You may be developing a cataract if you have cloudy or blurry vision, struggle to see without bright light, have double vision or colours look faded.

Prevention: Stop smoking, eat well (include foods high in vitamins C and E), reduce exposure to sunlight, and if necessary, manage your diabetes.

Treatment: New spectacles or anti-glare sunglasses may help with early-stage cataracts, but advanced cataracts need to be surgically removed. The lens that is affected will be replaced.

Diabetic retinopathy

Those with diabetes often suffer eyesight problems as a result of high blood sugar levels which cause damage to the blood vessels in the eyes.

Prevention:
Maintain a healthy blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol. Exercise regularly, regulate your weight and avoid smoking and drinking alcohol.

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Treatment: Laser surgery to cauterise the damaged blood vessels in the eye. Keep blood sugar, cholesterol and pressure at healthy levels.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma can run in the family and is most often found in adults over 60 years old. It’s caused by high pressure in the eye which puts pressure on the optic nerve.

Prevention: There is no way to prevent glaucoma.

Treatment: Early detection may lead to treatment. There are also medications that decrease the pressure in the eye which delays the onset of blindness.

Age-related macular degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration causes blurred or opaque vision and problems with focus. This occurs mostly in the elderly, and the risk is higher in those exposed to excess sunlight and those who are heavy smokers.
Prevention: Regular visits to your optometrist can help detect early symptoms of the disease. Eating eye-boosting healthy foods also improves overall eye health.

Treatment:
In early-stage AMD, a specific cocktail of vitamins may help slow the disease.

Cancer of the eyes

Cancer of the eye becomes more likely as you age, especially if you have light-coloured eyes or are Caucasian. Sometimes the condition is an inherited one.

Prevention: There is no way to completely prevent eye cancer.

Treatment: These include chemotherapy, surgery, laser therapy, specific medications or radiation therapy.

If you fear you may have an eye condition that’s affecting your sight, visit your GP or optometrist, who may refer you to an ophthalmologist if necessary. If your eyes are healthy, keep them so by limiting exposure to harsh light, keeping any other conditions in check, and eating as healthily as possible.

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