While there are several different types of cataracts, the most common cause is the result of aging. Typically the lens of the eye becomes yellow or cloudy as opposed to clear, which causes colours to look dimmer or it can be compared to looking through a “dirty windshield”. The rate at which a cataract matures varies but can sometimes be associated with certain medications or diseases like diabetes. Cataracts are usually easily removed with surgery.
Glaucoma is commonly known as the “silent thief of sight” disease. Glaucoma can cause peripheral vision blindness with no symptoms only signs. While there are several types and causes of glaucoma, one of the most common causes is when the eye pressure in the eye builds up and causes damage to the optic nerve. Early detection and treatment is imperative. If left untreated, it will lead to blindness.
Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 65. Sun-exposure, age, genetics and smoking are all common causes of the disease. Macular degeneration impairs the central vision making it difficult to read, drive and distinguish faces. There are two common forms: dry and wet. The dry form is more common and occurs when the layer under the retina deteriorates and can cause holes or cracks. This layer is partially responsible for feeding the retina. As it degrades, this results in a lack of nutrients being fed to the retina. Over time, the retina becomes less sensitive to light and a deterioration of central vision commonly develops, known as dry macular degeneration. Wet macular degeneration occurs when blood vessels grow through the cracks and start to bleed and scarring develops. There are some treatments which can decrease further vision loss but may not bring back already lost vision.
Diabetic Eye Disease
Increased blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels in the back of the eye. Over time, the blood vessels weaken and eventually start to leak. This can lead to swelling of the retina and loss of vision. Other eye diseases likely to develop as a result of diabetes include: cataracts, glaucoma and retinal detachments.
A retinal detachment occurs when the back layer of the eye, the retina, separates from the rest of the eye. This is a true emergency as the retina cannot function once it has been detached. If the retina is not attached quickly, permanent vision loss will result. There are several causes of a retinal detachment. A few common ones include: ocular trauma or injury to the eyeball, being very nearsighted, having diabetes in the eye or certain types of ocular surgeries. Symptoms to be aware of include: the sudden occurrence of spots and floaters, flashing lights, or a shadow or curtain coming down in front of or on the side of the vision. Visit an eye care professional immediately if any of the above symptoms occur.