5 Common Medical Conditions That Can Lead To Vision Loss When Poorly Managed

2012-09-07 | |
Last updated: 2012-09-07

A reduction in the quality of our eyesight has long been recognized as a part of the aging process. Like other parts of our body, our eyes are susceptible to the wear and tear from years of use. The accumulated exposure to ultraviolet light causes the lens of our eyes to yellow over time leading to difficulties telling some colors apart. As well, aging affects vision with the same loss of elasticity that we observe in the skin also occurring in the lens of our eyes. This is what makes focusing difficult and leads many to require bifocals in middle age. Aging eyes also require brighter light in order to see as well as when they were younger.

While it is natural to expect such subtle changes in our vision as we age, more severe changes are likely the result of disease. As our eyes are very specialized, there are many ways in which diseases can lead to a loss of vision. Eye disorders such as Glaucoma, Cataracts and Macular Degeneration all occur more frequently as we age, but should never be considered a normal part of the aging process. For people with chronic medical conditions, is is actually very important to consider that vision loss can occur as a byproduct. The eye disease Macular Degeneration is one example of a condition that can occur as a side effect of poorly managed chronic illness.

What Is The Eye Disease Macular Degeneration?

Macular Degeneration is a disorder that affects the part of the eye responsible for converting light into the electrical signals that our brain interprets as images. This area is at the back of the eyeball. Those with the condition typically experience painless loss of vision in the center of their view as shadowy or dark spots that grow in size over time. While the condition has one name, it is actually caused by several very different problems. Each of the different forms of Macular Degeneration lead to different severities of vision loss.

Among the types of Macular Degeneration associated with aging, there are two main forms with genetic ties that have the unhelpful names of “dry” and “wet”. The most common form, “dry” Macular Degeneration occurs when deposits form at the back of the eye. These deposits can be composed of a number of materials including Vitamin A. In some cases, the deposits simply obstruct light from reaching the light sensing cells while in other cases, the deposits are toxic and actually poison these cells. “Dry” Macular Degeneration” represents roughly 90% of the cases related to age.

The less common, but more severe form of Macular Degeneration identified as the “wet” form, occurs when additional blood vessels start to grow at the back of the eye. The body attempts to grow these blood vessels in an effort to get more nutrients to the eye. However, these new blood vessels can cause scarring and will also leak blood fluids that are toxic to the light sensing cells, causing them to die. The loss of these cells results directly in “blind spots” in the central area of vision.

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Category: Disease Information, Disease Prevention, Health Risks, Medical Research, Symptom Information

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