Aging Eyesight: When to See the Eye Doctor

Your eyesight can dimish as your age.  These serious eye health problems include cataracts, macular degeneration and glaucoma. The danger is that, if left untreated, some eye diseases can cause irreparable damage and once lost, the eyesight can never be recovered. If in doubt, it is a case of better safe than sorry.

When to Schedule a Regular Eye Exam
The recommended frequency for getting an eye examination is every two to three years for those under the age of 40 with no family history of eye disease, otherwise an examination should be scheduled annually.

When to Consult an Eye Doctor Urgently
If you are suffering from pain in the eye, it should be taken very seriously and you should see an eye doctor as soon as possible. Causes may be as simple as a foreign body in the eye, trauma or an eye infection, but all cases need to be treated as soon as possible to prevent a more serious complaint. Iritis or uveitis is the inflammation of the iris due to an infection or trauma. It can quickly be resolved with the proper treatment although it may reoccur.

Optic Neuritis
Severe eye pain and throbbing with any degree of loss of vision may be the first symptoms of a very serious eye condition which needs immediate attention to avoid permanent loss of sight. Optic neuritis is a rare but serious complaint. The eye becomes painful to touch or move due to sudden nerve inflammation which can lead to a loss of vision in a matter of hours, so urgent medical attention is required without delay.

Glaucoma
Other vision changes requiring immediate attention are symptoms such as seeing halos around lights, dimness of vision, blurred vision and the development of blind spots. These can be the first symptoms of glaucoma, a major cause of blindness created by intraocular pressure within the eye. Acute closure glaucoma may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, headaches and decreased vision, but often glaucoma is painless with no early symptoms. However, it can easily be detected at an early stage by an eye doctor as part of a regular eye exam.

In most cases glaucoma is treated with eyedrops to reduce the production of fluid within the eye, preventing a further build up of pressure on the eye which can lead to permanent loss of vision. Drugs may also be prescribed to increase the outflow of the fluid in the eye, known as aqueous humor which protects the optic nerve from permanent damage.

Detached Retina
Seeing flashes of light or having the perception of a shade down one side of the visual field can be a sign of retinal detachment. This serious condition should be treated as a medical emergency which needs specialist treatment as soon as possible to prevent the risk of permanent loss of sight.

Cataracts
A gradual cloudiness in the vision generally indicates the presence of cataracts which eventually need to be treated surgically. Although serious, this is a non-urgent eye problem but only an eye doctor can accurately diagnose a problem, making it important that any eye problems should be referred to an eye doctor as soon as possible for diagnosis and treatment if necessary.

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