Vision issues can emerge at any age from birth into later life, but depending on age, the right treatments vary. In order to determine how to best to treat visual impairments, then, it’s important to understand how sight changes over time, as well as the developmental capabilities of the patient. Eye health is a lifelong journey – here’s how to chart your course.
Vision Impairments In Children
Our understanding of children’s eye health and vision care has come a long way in recent years, which is why it’s so much more common to see young children wearing glasses these days. But how do doctors identify these issues? In part, they rely on observations from parents, noting symptoms such as whether a young child has trouble with eye tracking, blinks or rubs their eyes a lot, or holds objects unusually close to their face to look at them.
Some children are also born with visual problems, such as glaucoma or cataracts. These can typically be treated surgically after birth to correct the underlying issues. For younger children who are near- or far-sighted, on the other hand, glasses are typically the most appropriate treatment. Doctors don’t generally recommend waiting until at least age 10 to introduce contacts, as children need a certain level of maturity and responsibility to handle them safely.
The one exception to using contacts in children is in those cases when a child is born with cataracts. Children tend to fare better when given contacts, rather than undergoing an artificial lens implantation and they are less likely to need repeat surgeries. Though putting contact lenses into an infant or toddler’s eyes is hardly easy, the discomfort and inconvenience is preferable to requiring additional surgical interventions.
Eye Care For Adults
By early adulthood, most people have fairly stable vision. While children’s eyes change often, requiring updated prescriptions, adults typically require fewer adjustments. You should, however, continue to get annual eye exams to monitor your vision health.
One of the best things about reaching adulthood is that visually impaired, healthy adults with minimal prescription changes are good candidates for laser eye surgery. There are a number of different types of eye surgery available, not just LASIK, though that is the most well-known type, and your doctor can help you select the right kind for your particular vision issues.
If you’ve experienced some age-related vision loss, commonly known as presbyopia, you may be a good candidate for PRELEX, or presbyopic lens exchange. This type of surgery replaces your natural lens with a multifocal lens that works similarly to a bifocal or progressive lens and can provide you with more flexibility. Presbyopia is common in adults over age 40, so don’t be surprised if you begin to develop additional visual changes at this point in your life.
Senior Eye Health
Finally, as you enter the later years of life, you’re more likely to develop new vision issues. These include poor peripheral vision, night blindness, as well as glaucoma, cataracts, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is the most common cause of vision loss in Americans over 60, but the condition rarely results in complete blindness, and there are several medical interventions available for AMD.
Treatment of cataracts in older adults is similar to that used for children born with the condition – removal of the cataract. Adults, of course, will receive an appropriate permanent lens implant after surgery.
Glaucoma in older adults can be more difficult to treat. Children develop the condition because of malformed drainage systems in the eye. Adults, however, may need to have their existing eye drainage system supplemented through laser treatment or surgical meshwork. Glaucoma should also be treated with eye drops or other medications that can reduce pressure in the eye.
Good vision is a gift, but if you want to maintain your eyesight for life, you need to care for it well. Get annual vision exams and pay attention to any changes in your eyesight, including poor night vision, blurring, and dry eye. With proper care and oversight, you can enjoy optimal visual health for years to come.