Warning signs of a serious eye problem
Eyes aren't exempt from the wear and tear of aging. Some of the age-related changes in the eyes are annoying but not serious â€” for example, it can become difficult to focus on near objects, and eyelashes may thin out a bit. But other changes can threaten vision.
With age, the eyes' ability to stay lubricated starts to wane. This can leave eyes feeling irritated, sticky, dry, or gritty. The lens of the eye can become less elastic. Night vision may also start to suffer, which can pose problems when driving at night. In contrast, cataract, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy can rob you of your sight.
How do you know if an eye problem is a nuisance or the start of something serious? The following signs and symptoms warrant a call to your doctor. Catching serious eye problems early can help preserve your vision. Even non-vision-threatening problems can be treated to keep your eyes comfortable and your eyesight as sharp as possible.
Call your doctor if you experience any of the following:
- 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 (colored circles around lights) or glare
- Hazy or blurred vision
- Inability to close an 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
For more information about preventing and treating eye disease, buy The Aging Eye, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.
5 ways to protect your eyes from AMD
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a condition in which the macula, the part of the eye that's responsible for your sharpest and most detailed vision, begins to thin and break down, causing vision loss. If left untreated, it can lead to blindness.
There is no surefire way to prevent AMD. However, there are things you can do to delay its onset or reduce its severity. Here are 5 of our favorites:
- Smoking can speed up AMD damage. If you smoke, quit.
- Sunlight is thought to possibly promote AMD. Protect your eyes from the sun by wearing sunglasses and broad-brimmed hats.
- Research also suggests that certain nutrients help prevent macular degeneration. Eat a diet rich in fresh fruits and dark-green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, collard greens, and kale. The latter are especially rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, which are key for eye health.
- If you have intermediate or advanced dry AMD, or any stage of the "wet" form of AMD, ask your doctor about supplements. For example, people at high risk of developing the advanced stages of the "wet" form of AMD may lower their risk by taking high-dose combinations of antioxidant vitamins and minerals.
- It's unclear whether omega-3 supplements are beneficial for AMD. But eating fish and other foods high in these nutrients may still be worthwhile for preserving optimal vision and overall good health.
For more information on keeping your eyes healthy, buy The Aging Eye, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.
The Aging Eye
|•||How the eye works|
|•||The eye examination|
|•||SPECIAL BONUS SECTION: Choices in cataract surgery|
|•||... and more!|
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