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These are typical eye diseases in old age
Age is a critical risk factor in many eye diseases. Eye specialists explain which common diseases of the eyes only develop at an advanced age and which symptoms indicate these diseases.
With increasing years of life, eye diseases become more likely. The tricky thing is that they often go unnoticed for a long time. What are your symptoms and how can you treat them?
The eyes do not serve equally well throughout life
"It is normal for the visual acuity to decrease with age," says Angelika Ostrowski from the German Association of the Blind and Visually Impaired (DBSV) in Berlin. The sensitivity of the retina also abates somewhat, adds Martin Spitzer.
"The eye loses its ability to zoom, that is, the ability to see both far and close," says the director of the clinic and polyclinic for ophthalmology at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf. However: Many age-related diseases start with similar symptoms that can hardly be distinguished. It is all the more important to have a regular preventive check-up at the eye doctor.
Cataract does not miss anyone
"We all get a cataract, we just have to get old enough," is how Spitzer describes the phenomenon of cataracts, the clouded lens. This cloudiness typically develops from the sixth decade of life, adds Hans Hoerauf, director of the Clinic for Ophthalmology at the University Medical Center Göttingen. But it can also affect younger people - short-sighted people or diabetics, as well as people who have to take cortisone regularly, for example.
Those who have cataracts can no longer perceive contrasts well. The lens becomes cloudy, the visual acuity deteriorates. This is because the lens becomes firmer and deposits form. If the eyes are otherwise healthy, surgery can often bring relief. This intervention can usually be performed on an outpatient basis and with local anesthesia, explains Hoerauf. Infections are rare. However, the risk of retinal detachment increases, especially in younger and myopic patients, the expert says.
Glaucoma: The creeping thief
As a "creeping thief of vision", ophthalmologist Spitzer describes the glaucoma, also called glaucoma. Too high an intraocular pressure is a risk factor for this. "The patients usually have no complaints at all, and that's the dangerous thing," says Hans Hoerauf.
The glaucoma is not curable, the damage can only be limited. The pressure in the eye is usually reduced with the help of drops - laser therapy is also used or the eye is operated on. However, as with cataracts, there is no one operation that does everything, restricts Martin Spitzer.
Every five years for glaucoma early detection
For healthy people aged 40 and over without previous illnesses, early glaucoma detection is recommended - as a legally insured person you usually have to pay for this yourself. From the age of 60 one should go for an examination every two to three years. Because the earlier the glaucoma is diagnosed, the more the optic nerve can save.
AMD: When the retina changes
With age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the center of the retina changes. The tricky thing: "In the early phase of the disease you don't notice anything," says Martin Spitzer. Hans Hoerauf advises self-tests: either regularly look at a special grid (Amsler grid) or, for example, look at the joints between the tiles in the bathroom with one eye and make sure that they appear straight. If the straight lines are distorted, you should quickly check with your doctor.
Dry or damp: the two forms of AMD
According to Martin Spitzer, the dry form of AMD slowly leads to a loss of reading ability. Here deposits, also called drusen, form under the macula. Result: It is difficult to recognize faces, for example. There is still no therapy to heal the dry form, explains Angelika Ostrowski.
"The wet AMD runs faster and leaves much more damage without treatment," says Hans Hoerauf. To put it simply, vessels grow under the retina. Syringes with growth-inhibiting drugs are used as therapy. This effectively drains the AMD. But that doesn't mean healing, it slows down the process. In this way, vision can be retained for a longer period of time, if necessary. (vb; source: dpa / tmn)