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What Your Eyes Say about Senior Health

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

What Your Eyes Say about Senior Health

May is Healthy Vision Month and making sure you have regular checkups is important at every age, but as a senior there are numerous complications that can arise if you do not get your eyes checked frequently.  Senior eye health depends on awareness and early diagnosis of potential problems. Elderly vision loss, macular degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma are among the most common issues affecting senior eye health. Fortunately, the eyes are more than ready to disclose these potential difficulties, as well as other impending health concerns, if you know where to look

Your eyes can say a lot without speaking a word. So what can the eyes reveal?

A recurring sty could indicate cancer, particularly if eyelashes around the sty have fallen out. An ophthalmologist can examine the sty and determine if a biopsy is needed.  Bulging eyes often indicate an overactive thyroid (Graves’ disease). Other symptoms include weight loss, blurry vision, fatigue and nervousness. Physicians can order a blood test to measure thyroid levels and decide on medication or surgery for treatment. Cholesterol Spots which can be a warning sign of an underlying health condition are fatty deposits under the eyelid. Brown spots or bumps can be a sign of a possible malignant tumor, it is important to check your eyelids regularly, as well as, the rest of your body for unusual marks, spots, or bumps. If you do find something, go to your doctor immediately. Detecting and treating are the best ways to avoid spreading. Cataracts are something all seniors need to be aware of, the first sign is cloudiness around the eyes. Cataracts are the leading cause of vision loss among the elderly in the U.S. The most effective solution is surgery to remove the cataracts. Glaucoma presents as pain in the eye, halos around lights and blurred vision, it can also cause nausea. These are all signs you need to be aware of and visit a doctor immediately.  Sometimes as we get older, double vision or vision loss can be signs of a stroke. These signs along with weakness in extremities, especially on one side of the body can signal a stroke. Seek immediate medical attention if you exhibit these symptoms. If you notice a yellowish hue, (jaundice) in the whites of your eyes, it could be a buildup of bilirubin, which is a substance produced when the liver breaks down red blood cells. This is typically caused by hepatitis, or cirrhosis, or possibly a gallbladder issue, consult your doctor for diagnosis and treatment. Macular degeneration is when a small central portion of the retina (the macula) deteriorates. This is the leading cause of vision loss in people over 60 years old. There are currently no cures for macular degeneration, but there are prescribed treatments to slow the progression of the disease. Bell’s palsy, which is a temporary paralysis on the side of the face, and typically your eye, is not the result of a stroke. Seek medical attention immediately, if diagnosed as Bell’s palsy symptoms typically clear up in around ten days.

According to “Researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles discovered that beta amyloid protein, a dementia-causing protein in the brain, can also be found in the retina of the eye; giving the medical community a much simpler way to predict Alzheimer’s disease. This is great news considering Alzheimer’s disease is expected to rise from 5.1 million in 2010 to 13.5 million in 2050 and is the only cause of death among the top 10 in the U.S. that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.”


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