Eye Questions

Eye Questions/Answers/ Vision

1. Have you been going to the eye doctor lately and thinking oh no my eyes keep getting worse! I think this will keep happening at the same rate until I go blind.

False – relax, nearsighted eye worsening occurs until you are around 35 and then between 35-60 it will usually stop. Myopia will actually start to reverse and get better as presbyopia onsets when people pass the age of 35.

The one eye issue to worry about is early cataract onset also known as nuclear sclerosis which can make myopia worse.

There is an eye disease called pathological myopia where a nearsighted eye keeps getting worse until it is almost blind. This happens because the eye gets so big and the retina so disproportionately stretched that it started to degrade. This is very rare and usually only present in people who had horrible eyesight in childhood.

2. Another question people ask is that they used to have perfect vision and never wear glasses as a child, and now they need stronger glasses every time they go into the eye doctor. These people are worried, you may even be able to relate, as they ask, “is there something wrong with me now?”

Often the person asking this question is farsighted, a condition also known as hyperopic. When your eyes start to lose their ability to focus even when reading, they are less able to accommodate farsightedness as well because all the eye muscles are weakening and less able to compensate for any deficiencies. Young people with young eyes are able to contract and compensate so they don’t need glasses or a prescription but when they get older and lose the muscle tone in their eyes, they start to notice the vision loss and need to get an official prescription and corrective lenses.

In these cases the official diagnosis is called latent hyperopia which means farsightedness that always existed but was diagnosed at a later age when contracting the eye muscles and squinting was no longer an option for the aged eye muscles.

So, in this case you will notice your eyes getting worse, however they are actually not getting worse, your ability to compensate through contracting the eye muscle is getting worse but the eye itself has always been this way.

3. Yay! I no longer need to use my reading glasses and I used to need them. Are my eyes better now?

Don’t get too happy. Age caused cataracts can cause the eye’s focus to shift which can improve your ability to see temporarily, but then the cataract will make the vision worse and you will be able to see even less well than you previously were able to.

4. If I am getting old and am a senior citizen should I still be driving and should I be worried about my ability to drive safely?

Honestly that depends on more than just your vision, and vision will usually decrease as you get older. Driving ability depends on cognition, motor skills, reaction time, vision and more.

You should check in with your doctor and use your own best judgement on all faculties involved in driving to see if you are safe on the road. Also use your judgement: Are you able to read road signs while wearing corrective lenses or glasses?

If not, consider not driving or checking with your eye doctor to see if you can get a prescription that is more effective at correcting your vision.

There are actualy over 13 million US drivers who are over the age of 70, and by 2020 it is estimated there will be over 30 million drivers in this age bracket.

Interestingly, only 42 of the 50 US states require eye tests in order to renew one’s drviers license. This is unfortunate as a study found that in the years 1985-1989 states with no required eye test for license renewal had statistically significantly more old driver deaths every year.

Think of what a simple test in all 50 states could do. So many more lives could be saved. Common sense is also helpful in this situation, and if you feel you are not able to see clearly or read road signs, then you should really stay off the road or go to your eye doctor and see if you can correct the vision problem to keep the roads safe for everyone.

5. I am seeing double and can you fix it?

This happens when the extraocular eye muscles which move the eyes get weaker and are not able to work together as normal. Then each eye will see an image that differs slightly from what the other eye is seeing, which the brain is not able to put together and the result is you see double.

To test if this is the kind of double vision that is affecting you, try closing one eye. If one of the double images disappears when you do this then you know that your double vision is caused by the extraocular muscle imbalance.

If this not the case, it may be due to a rarer condition that affects the eye position such as a thyroid gland that is overacting and causes the eyes to move in their sockets and become mis-positioned. Tumors can cause this as well as some other rarer conditions.

Some other possibilities include cataracts, astigmatism, or an age related change in the middle of your retina called the macula.

If when you close one eye your double vision does not go away, then you know that your double vision is caused by one of the other factors and not by weakened eye muscles.

No matter the cause, when you have double vision you need to go to the eye doctor right away to get help. If it is related to your general health it could be a more serious issue than you think at first glance.

References

Cassel, Gary H., Harry G. Randall, and Michael D. Billig. The Eye Book: A Complete Guide to Eye Disorders and Health. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins UP, 2000. Print.



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