Aging and Your Eyes – Age Page – Health Information: NIA



Dry eyes


Eye Diseases and Disorders Common in Older People


During surgery, the doctor takes off the clouded lens and, in most cases, puts in a clear, plastic lens. Cataract surgery is very safe. It is one of the most common surgeries done in the United States. results from too much fluid pressure inside the eye. It can lead to vision loss and blindness. The cause of glaucoma is unknown. If treated early, glaucoma often can be controlled and blindness prevented. To find glaucoma, the eye doctor will look at your eyes through dilated pupils. Treatment may be prescription eye drops, oral medications, or surgery. Most people with glaucoma have no early symptoms or pain from increased pressure. are a leading cause of blindness in the United States. The retina is a thin lining on the back of the eye. It is made up of cells that get visual images and pass them on to the brain. Retinal disorders include age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and retinal detachment.


Retinal disorders

  • Age-related macular degeneration
  • . The macula is part of the eye with millions of cells that are sensitive to light. The macula makes vision possible from the center part of the eye. Over time, age-related macular degeneration can ruin sharp vision needed to see objects clearly and to do common tasks like driving and reading. In some cases, it can be treated with lasers.

  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • . This disorder can result from diabetes. It happens when small blood vessels stop feeding the retina properly. In the early stages, the blood vessels may leak fluid, which distorts sight. In the later stages, new vessels may grow and send blood into the center of the eye, causing serious vision loss. In most cases, laser treatment can prevent blindness. It is very important that people with diabetes have an eye exam through dilated pupils every year.

  • Retinal detachment
  • . This happens when the inner and outer layers of the retina become separated. With surgery or laser treatment, doctors often can reattach the retina and bring back all or part of your eyesight.


Corneal diseases and conditions

Corneal transplantation is used to restore eyesight when the cornea has been hurt by injury or disease. An eye surgeon replaces the scarred cornea with a healthy cornea donated from another person. Corneal transplantation is a common treatment that is safe and successful. The doctor may prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses after surgery. can come from different diseases or conditions. The eyelids protect the eye, distribute tears, and limit the amount of light entering the eye. Pain, itching, tearing and sensitivity to light are common eyelid symptoms. Other problems may include drooping eyelids (ptosis), blinking spasms (blepharospasm), or inflamed outer edges of the eyelids near the eyelashes (blepharitis). Eyelid problemsoften can be treated with medication or surgery. causes the arteries in the temple area of the forehead to become swollen. It can begin with a severe headache, pain when chewing, and tenderness in the temple area. It may be followed in a few weeks by sudden vision loss. Other symptoms can include shaking, weight loss, and low-grade fever. Scientists don’t know the cause of temporal arteritis, but they think it may be a disorder of the immune system. Early treatment with medication can help prevent vision loss in one or both eyes.

Eyelid problems

Temporal arteritis

Low Vision Aids

Many people with eyesight problems find low vision aids helpful. These are special devices that are stronger than regular eyeglasses. Low vision aidsinclude telescopic glasses, lenses that filter light, and magnifying glasses. Also, there are some useful electronic devices that you can either hold in your hand or put directly on your reading material. People with only partial sight often make surprising improvements using these aids.


A number of organizations can send you more information: (NEI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), supports research on eye disease and the visual system. NEI can send you free brochures on eye disorders. Write to the NEI, 2020 Vision Place, Bethesda, MD 20892-3655; or call 301-496-5248. can send a list of their free publications on vision. Contact the Foundation at 11 Penn Plaza, Suite 300, New York, NY 10001; or call 1-800-232-5463. provides free information to the public about vision and eye care. Contact the Association at 243 North Lindbergh Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63141; or call 314-991-4100. serves as a national clearinghouse for information on vision and aging. Contact the Center at 11 East 59th Street, New York, NY 10022; or call 1-800-334-5497. is a voluntary health agency that works with people who can partially see. Contact the Association at 22 West 21st Street, New York, NY 10010, or call 212-889-3141. (AAO) has a helpline number to refer callers to local ophthalmologists who will volunteer to provide needed medical care. This public service program brings eye care and information to disadvantaged older people. Contact the AAO at P.O. Box 6988, San Francisco, CA 94120-6988; or call 1-800-222-EYES. provides free library services to people with vision problems and offers braille and large-print materials, recorded books, and other periodicals. Contact the Service at 1291 Taylor Street, NW, Washington, DC 20542; or call 1-800-424-8567. has several free pamphlets on specific diseases affecting the eyes. They also have Home Eye Test for Adults, which is available for $1.25 (to cover the cost of postage and handling). Contact the Society at 500 East Remington Road, Schaumburg, IL 60173-5611; or call 1-800-331-2020. publishes the Vision Resource List, which includes information on special products and service for people with visual impairments. Contact the Foundation at 818 Mt. Auburn Street, Watertown, MA 02172; or call 617-926-4232. (NIA), part of the NIH, distributes Age Pages and other materials on a wide range of topics related to health and aging. For a list of free publications contact NIA’s Information Center at P.O. Box 8057, Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8057; or call 800-222-2225, or 800-222-4225 (TTY).

The National Eye Institute

The American Foundation for the Blind

The American Optometric Association

The Lighthouse National Center for Vision and Aging

The National Association for the Visually Handicapped

The National Eye Care Project of the American Academy of Ophthalmology

The National Library Service for the Blind and Visually Handicapped

The National Society to Prevent Blindness

The Vision Foundation

The National Institute on Aging

National Institute on Aging
U. S. Department of Health and Human Services
Public Health Service
National Institutes of Health

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