As we grow older, it is a common occurrence for our vision to deteriorate. Vision problems are probably the most common forms of this deterioration. We often shrug off symptoms we may exhibit because we feel that it’s just part of old age. However, there are instances when we do have to pay attention to the signs we are feeling as these may indicate that we are suffering from a degenerative eye disease.

A degenerative eye disease refers to a group of diseases that affects different parts of our eye such as the cornea, macula, retina and iris. These types of conditions often result to progressive loss of our central vision. Here are some degenerative eye diseases you need to watch out for:

Retinitis Pigmentosa

This disease refers to a degeneration of the retina that takes place slowly and progressively. It is a rare and inherited condition that is characterized by the following symptoms:

•    Narrowing field of vision
•    Poor night vision
•    Diminishing central vision
•    Minimized peripheral vision.

Retinitis Pigmentosa normally will manifest itself in teenage years.

Stargardt’s Disease

This eye disease is also inherited and it commonly affects children and young adults. Some of its symptoms include:

•    Unclear vision despite presence of proper lighting
•    Inability to see colors
•    Blurred or distorted vision
•    Difficulty recognizing faces.
•    Central vision is affected peripheral vision remains normal.

Type 1 Herpes Simplex Virus

This virus causes the following eye diseases:

•    Stomal keratitis, an infection in the layers of the cornea
•    Iridocyclitis, an inflammation of the iris and its surrounding tissue.

Its symptoms include:

•    Severe or sudden eye pain
•    Blurred vision
•    Swollen cornea.
•    It usually only affects one eye and can recur again and again until vision loss occurs.
Cytomegalovirus Retinitis

This eye disease refers to a viral inflammation of the retina. It is often associated with AIDS. Some of its symptoms are as follows:

•    Blurred vision
•    Seeing flashes of light
•    Sudden loss of vision
•    Seeing floaters or small floating spots in your field of vision
•    Decreased peripheral vision.

Today with multiple oral anti-virals not only is Cytomegalovirus Retinitis on the decline but life expectancy has significantly increased.

Ocular Melanoma

This eye condition refers to a rare cancer that affects the eye. Cancer is a dangerous condition as it can spread to other vital organs. In this case, the cancer commonly affects the liver. Eye tumors can be observed in the following parts of the eye:

•    Conjunctiva or the thin and transparent tissue covering the eye’s outer surface
•    Optic nerve
•    Choroidal layer or the highly vascular layer under the retina
•    Eyelids
•    Iris.

Its symptoms are as follows:

•    Seeing floaters
•    Darkened or change in the color of the iris
•    Bulging eye
•    Blurred vision in one eye
•    Loss of peripheral vision
•    Red eye
•    Painful eye.

It is thought that consistent wear of sunglasses can reduce the incidence of this devastating eye disease.

Diabetic Retinopathy

It is the most common cause of blindness under the age of 50.  This eye disease occurs when the blood vessels of the retina are damaged.   The retina is the light sensitive tissue found at the back our eye.

The symptoms of this condition include the following:

•    Compromised nearsighted vision
•    Double vision
•    Seeing floaters.

Strict control of glucose levels not only controls diabetes but also reduces the incidence of diabetic retinopathy.

Macular Degeneration

It is the most common cause of blindness over the age of 50. This eye condition refers to the degeneration of the macula which forms part of the retina.

Its symptoms are as follows:

•    Need for extremely bright lights for activities that require nearsighted vision
•    Blurred over-all vision that increases gradually
•    Difficulty in seeing clearly in low light settings.
•    Peripheral vision (or side vision) is normally unaffected.

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