Second Sight: The Misleading Gift of Myopia to the Elderly
The eyes, teaming with the brain and the rest of the visual system, play a large role in how people learn and function, as well as how they see themselves and live their lives. However, the contribution they make to those lives isn’t always that kind, and can sometimes be downright cruel. And that’s the situation when their lenses taunt elderly retirees with what seems like a gift of “Second Sight”, and leads them to believe they will no longer need reading glasses, say Australian behavioural optometrists Gary Rodney and Jacqueline Gattegno.
The Gift That Doesn’t Keep Giving
Rodney, a fellow of the International Academy of Orthokeratology and Myopia Control (FIAOMC), says that, unfortunately, instead of being a permanent vision change, this spell of clear close-up vision is more like a temporary respite. Many of the retirees who find themselves able to read without glasses for the first time in years, and experience this “gift” at a point in their lives when they actually have time to do so, should probably remember where they stored their glasses, for the time when the sight holiday slowly reaches an end and books start to return to blurs.
It may also be advisable when they start to notice a difference in this “gift” of sight to consult an eye doctor as to whether or not they were duped into a sense of comfort by thickening lenses in the eye. It’s a natural process that may happen as the eyes age, and is often an indication that cataract could be forming on one or both lenses. This is usually the cause of the so-called second sight, which gives aging eyes a last window of opportunity to enjoy some clear close up vision, before the curtains start to close, says Rodney.
The Ageing Process of Eyes
According to Gattegno, the first sign of aging eyes, which can start setting in when people are still in their 40s, is usually the onset of presbyopia, a refractive error which improves their distance vision, and worsens their ability to see things close up. It develops as the lenses in the eyes start to lose their elasticity, and along with it their ability to bend the light rays that enter the eye in such a way that they fall on the retina.
That’s when many people start donning reading glasses to help with close work, studying, and reading, and, as they get older, Rodney says, fall into a pattern of changing them regularly for new and stronger ones as the lenses get harder, and they gradually find it harder to read or do close work.
The Holiday of Sight
Rodney says it isn’t surprising that those who’ve been affected by presbyopia are overwhelmed when they start to see nearby objects like books clearly without the aid of spectacles, and may see it as being the gift of second sight. But in the eyes themselves, changes are happening, and the ultimate outcome of these changes can be very severe. As eyes age, the hardening at the centre of the lenses, also known as nuclear sclerosis, reaches a point where the lens may again be able to focus the light rays on the retina, even though the elasticity, lost a couple of decades earlier, is no longer there.
However, the process does not stop there, according to Rodney. If the hardening process doesn’t stop it’s developmental surge at that point and keeps on toughening the lens, the central part of the lens may become opaque, creating a nuclear cataract. This could at first merely require the spectacles to be brought out of storage and back into use, or for getting new ones and again adopting a policy of changing them regularly until vision becomes so bad that cataract surgery may be the only alternative to total vision loss.
For more information about the myopia epidemic, its treatment and management, and more importantly what you can do to prevent it, or to make an appointment, visit the Smart Vision website: Optometrists Sydney: Optometry Services For Children and Adults | Smart Vision; for specific information about Myopia treatment and prevention visit Myopia Prevention: Solutions, Control And Treatment In Sydney; and for detailed information about Myopia Treatment visit Orthokeratology In Sydney: The Non Surgical Alternative.
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