Age-related Eye Disease Study Report

Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS)

The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) is a major clinical trial sponsored by the National Eye Institute, one of the Federal government's National Institutes of Health. This work has revealed that high levels of antioxidants and zinc can significantly slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration.



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happy eyes

Natural Eye Changes As We Age?


The pupil gets smaller so less light reaches the retina. This means that older people need extra lighting and have more trouble seeing when it is dark.


Color vision changes make it harder to distinguish blues and blue-greens.


Contrast sensitivity decreases so looking at things requires more attention. Read on for more detail about this fascinating subject.



man with speck in eye

Do you sometimes have specks floating around in your eye?



vision exam with a slit lamp

A First-Time Visit To An Ophthalmologist

A first-hand report on what happens when you visit a physician who specializes in eyes.



Tests To Do At Home For Macular Degeneration


You will need a blank sheet of graph paper.


normal ansler grid


This is a picture of what a blank sheet of graph paper will look like if you do not have macular degeneration.



abnormal ansler grid


This is a picture of what a blank sheet of graph paper could look like if you do have macular degeneration. The lines could seem a little less wavy or a little more wavy.



woman walking with white cane


Causes of Vision Loss In Older People



Some eye problems are minor but others can lead to a permanent loss of vision. As we age, the most common diseases of the eye include difficulty focusing up close, cataracts, glaucoma, and problems with the nerve layer at the back of the eye.


A sudden change in vision or flashes of light could be important signals and you should see an ophthalmologist right away. This would be a physician who specializes in treating eyes. Don't delay. Describe your symptoms to the person who makes appointments and get yourself in as soon as possible.



A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye. According to the National Institutes of Health, by age 80, more than half of all the people in the United States either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery.


Modern cataract surgery is safe and effective. The Mayo Clinic offers an excellent article on cataract surgery.


Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Macular Degeneration is a serious disease and is the leading cause of blindness among people aged 65 and older.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is more common in people over 60. It can cause a partial loss of vision. "Wet" AMD happens when new, unwanted, leaky blood vessels grow in the eye. It can be treated with medicine. "Dry" AMD is a slower process and does not have a specific treatment. But certain doses of vitamin and minerals may slow or stop it. Ask your doctor about that. Vision rehabilitation may help you adjust to life with AMD.


The dry type of AMD affects 9 out of 10 people with macular degeneration. It causes more gradual, subtle vision loss from the breakdown of cells in the retina. For example, you may see parts of letters, or straight lines may appear wavy. The dry type of AMD can develop into the wet type. Symptoms include:


Hazy vision

Needing extra light

Having trouble when going from bright to low light

Trouble reading or recognizing people's faces

Colors appearing less vivid


The wet type of AMD causes sudden, severe loss of central vision from leaking blood vessels growing in or under the retina. You may see a large dark spot in the center of your vision, known as a scotoma, or blind spot. If you have these blind spots, see an eye doctor right away. Symptoms include:


Distorted vision

Objects appearing a different size for each eye

Colors appearing less vivid or differently in each eye


Those who have Macular Degeneration rarely lose all of their vision. Though they have poor central vision, most can walk around, dress themselves, and perform many of their normal daily tasks. Reduction in central vision occurs gradually over many years. Recently, laser treatments are being recommended to treat Macular Degeneration.


Detached Retina

There is a sac inside the eye that is filled with a jelly-like material. As we age, that sac pulls away from the back of he eye. This is a normal part of the ageing process.


Sometimes, in the process of pulling away, the retina will tear and the result can be a detachment of the retina from the rear of the eye. Flashes and floaters may be symptoms of retinal detachment.


Detached retinas can be repaired with surgery, including laser surgery.



Most people have no early symptoms of Glaucoma and are unaware of their condition. Glaucoma can result in blindness if it goes untreated. Treatment usually involves painless eye drops at bedtime.