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Low Vision and the Elderly

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Eyes & Vision related image Photo: Getty Images

Glaucoma, cataracts, age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy are the most common vision-related diseases that affect millions of seniors every year and contribute to low vision.

Low vision is the loss of sight that is not correctable with prescription eyeglasses, contact lenses, or surgery. It includes different degrees of sight loss from having blind spots, poor night vision, and problems with glare to almost a complete loss of sight. The American Optometric Association divides low vision into two categories based on the vision in the best eye. There are multiple possible causes of low vision. Low vision is usually the result of disorders or injuries affecting the eye, or a condition such as diabetes that affects the entire body. Some of the most common causes of low vision include: age-related macular degeneration, diabetes, cataracts and glaucoma. If you have or are at risk of having these disorders, you are at an increased risk for having low vision.

Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is a condition where the cells at the back of the eye deteriorate and cause the central vision to become blurred or distorted. There are two forms of the disease--"dry" which is more common and milder, and "wet" which can lead to severe vision loss. It is the leading cause of blindness in people over 65, will increase from 1.75 million people to almost 3 million people by the year 2020, according to a study by researchers at Johns Hopkins and in the Eye Diseases Prevalence Research Group.

The diagnosis of macular degeneration is becoming increasingly more common due to patient awareness, physician access, groundbreaking improvements in treatment, and the relentless graying of the population exponentially increases the percentage of the population at risk for this condition. Thus, macular degeneration is a formidable challenge to patients, their doctors, and our society.

Cataracts is a condition that develops in the lens of the eye. They are made from a protein that has altered from its natural state, distorting and eventually prohibiting required light from entering into the retina, the part of the eye that receives light.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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