It’s not uncommon for seniors to have trouble with their vision. Reading glasses, large print and magnifiers seem to become common tools for seniors, but a new study shows vision problems are improving for the elderly. In 1984, 23 percent of elderly adults had difficulty reading or seeing newspaper print because of poor eyesight. By 2010, there was an age-adjusted 58 percent decrease in this kind of visual impairment.
Why the change?
Researchers believe new technology and better treatments for cataracts and macular degeneration is behind the improvement.
“From 1984 until 2010, the decrease in visual impairment in those 65 and older was highly statistically significant,” said Angelo P. Tanna, M.D., first author of the study. “There was little change in visual impairments in adults under the age of 65.”
“The findings are exciting, because they suggest that currently used diagnostic and screening tools and therapeutic interventions for various ophthalmic diseases are helping to prolong the vision of elderly Americans,” Tanna said.
What are the three reasons why eyesight has improved?
- Improved techniques and outcomes for cataract surgery
- Less smoking, resulting in a drop in the prevalence of macular degeneration
- Treatments for diabetic eye diseases are more readily available and improved, despite the fact that the prevalence of diabetes has increased
What is macular degeneration?
According to eMedicineHealth, “Macular degeneration is caused when part of the retina deteriorates. The retina is the interior layer of the eye consisting of the receptors and nerves that collect and transmit light signals from the eye into the optic nerve, then to the brain for interpretation as our sense of vision.”
More than 200,000 new cases of wet age-related macular degeneration occur each year in the United States.
Age-related macular degeneration affects more than 1.75 million individuals in the United States. Owing to the rapid aging of the U.S. population, this number is expected to increase to almost 3 million by 2020.