Contrary to popular opinion, vision loss in old age can be due to a number of diseases like cataract, age related macular degeneration (ARMD) or glaucoma. What is nonchalantly dismissed as normal, slowly leads to irreversible blindness if not treated in time. As our average life expectancy is increasing, India too is slowly witnessing the rise of ARMD as a major cause of blindness in the elderly. It has been estimated that it is the most common cause of blindness is 60% of the elderly population, with 7-10% of people over the age of 60 years being diagnosed with AMDR.
The only way to prevent permanent loss of vision is to detect this disease in its early stages. The condition does not cause any symptoms in the initial stages, but after a while, patients may suspect that something is wrong when they experience loss of vision, distortion of objects, blurring of central field of vision or difficulty in performing intricate functions especially reading and writing. Unfortunately, the occurrence of these symptoms usually means that the disease has reached advanced stages after which complete cure is difficult.
Some of the symptoms you should look out for are:
- One needs increasingly brighter light for doing close work
- Increasing haziness of printed words or overall vision
- Decrease in brightness of colors
- Visual distortions like straight lines appearing wavy
- Well defined blurry or blind spot in one’s field of vision
- Hallucinations of animals, people or shapes
Blurring of vision in her left eye brought a 58 years old lady, to the Retina OPD at Advanced Eye Hospital, Sanpada. Dr Haresh Asnani, Senior Retina Surgeon at Advanced Eye Hospital examined and diagnosed that she had early ARMD in her right eye and advanced ARMD in the left which had led to bleeding below her retina. She was aggressively treated with injections called Anti-VEGF, in her left eye for 3 months. Her last visit to the hospital revealed that the treatment had managed to restore her vision in the left eye and halted the progress of disease in the right. She has been advised to undergo 6 monthly eye checks and self-monitoring (using a chart called the Amsler grid) to check for any progress of the disease. Dr Haresh Asnani says that ‘It is very important that an annual eye check is done for all individuals above the age of 50, irrespective of whether their vision loss has been affected or not. ARMD should be diagnosed and treated early to prevent permanent vision loss and leading to dependency on other people for activities of daily life’.
Dr Vandana Jain, Director of Advanced Eye Hospital and Institute, says, ‘Age brings with it its own woes, but Age Related Macular Degeneration is one disease that need not be a burden for our senior citizens. Advanced Eye Hospital ensures that the latest technology and the best of Retinal Surgeons join hands to manage this disease in the best way possible.”