“The key is to get a screening — a complete, dilated eye exam which assess the front to back of the eye,” said Johnston, of Georgia Eye Partners in Sandy Springs. “Some things are preventable.”
While conditions like cataracts do not normally develop until later in life, Johnston said young people who do not wear glasses or contacts should receive “baseline screenings” every five years.
And chronic dry eye is tougher to treat later on in life, he said. Therefore, it is better to catch it earlier during the routine screening.
He recommends patients take a prescription medication, called Restasis, which helps increase tear production, instead of using something over the counter.
Ophthalmologist Dr. William Trattler of Bascom Eye Institute in Miami, said dry eye impacts the visual system by causing blurry and fluctuating vision.
“It is one of the most common eye diseases I see,” he said. “It is important to identify dry eye and speak to your doctor about initiating a treatment for it.”
And Johnston said diabetics and people with high blood pressure have high chances of developing eye problems and should have yearly eye exams, he said. Eye problems are also common in post-menopausal women.
With age comes presbyopia, which is fluctuation of vision and losing the ability to focus up close, Johnston said.
“The process happens because the lens of the eyes stiffens with age and eye muscles begin to weaken, making it harder for them to focus on close objects,” he said. “It simply requires glasses, contacts and sometimes laser connections.”
Cataracts come around age 50, Johnston said, when several people are now beginning to get surgery, which eliminates the use of glasses.
“It used to be much later [in life],” he said.
Once patients are past age 50 and they are healthy, Johnston recommends an eye exam every two years.
“If there’s pathology going on, probably every year,” he said.
Diet and supplements can also make a difference, Johnston said, because Omega 3, Omega 6 and antioxidant vitamins have been proven to help prevent dry eye and macular degeneration, which usually occurs in the eyes around age 60.
“Diets high in greens — kale and spinach can help avoid macular degeneration.”
In general, 60-year-olds need three times more light to read than 20-year-olds.
And after age 70, the ability to see fine detail declines due to a decrease in the nerve cells that transmit visual signals to the brain, Johnston said.
By 80, more than half of all Americans have cataracts and it is important to get eye exams more frequently, he said, as the chance of developing glaucoma increases.
“Glaucoma has no symptoms so eye exams are important,” Johnston said. “It’s the silent killer of vision and can cause permanent blindness when left untreated.”
Information: visit www.MyDryEyes.com.