The Most Experienced Team…The Most Advanced Technology…for Senior Eye Care
The physicians and staff of Hattiesburg Eye Clinic are committed to providing the most advanced care available for age-related eye conditions should you experience them as you grow older. We have the experience, training and technology to preserve and, in many cases, restore vision for our most senior patients.
Common Age-Related Eye Conditions
As your eyes age, you become more susceptible to vision problems, including the following (be sure to click on the links for each condition to receive more detailed information):
Cataracts: If your vision doesn’t seem as sharp or in focus as it once was, or colors aren’t as vivid as they once were, you may be suffering from cataracts, a clouding of the normally-transparent lens of the eye. With Hattiesburg Eye Clinic’s new CATALYS® Precision Laser System, cataracts can be treated with a quick, outpatient procedure.
Glaucoma: A leading cause of blindness, open-angle and narrow-angle glaucoma are caused by an increase in pressure within the eye, resulting in damage to the optic nerve. Glaucoma can be controlled if caught early: pressure monitoring (at least once a year for African-Americans, patients with a family history of glaucoma, diabetics or the very nearsighted) is the best treatment strategy.
Retinal Disease: Any condition of the retina that results in loss of vision. Of the roughly 12 million Americans who suffer from diabetes, an estimated 90 percent will develop diabetic retinopathy.
Macular Degeneration: A retinal disease that occurs when the macula, an area at the retina at the back of the eye, begins to gradually deteriorate, usually because of age. A partial or total loss of central vision can occur. There are treatments available for some types of macular degeneration.
Flashes and Floaters: Have you ever turned your head quickly, thought you saw a small bug or a floating spot, and then reached out only to discover that there wasn’t really anything there? Sometimes these appear as a flash of light, rather than a spot. Although flashes and floaters can be alarming, an eye examination will usually confirm that they’re harmless and require no treatment.
Dry Eye: An eye condition that causes itching, burning or excessive watering of the eyes. Dry Eye has many causes and a variety of treatment options depending on the cause.
Blepharitis: An inflammation of the eyelids often caused by malfunctioning oil glands at the base of the eyelashes. Redness, frequent styes or a sticky discharge are all symptoms of this easily-treatable condition.
Helping you Take the Stress out of Healthcare Costs
Treatment of many eye conditions is covered by insurance, including Medicare. If you have questions about your coverage, contact your plan provider or provide us with a copy of your insurance card and we’ll check for you. We accept most major medical insurance plans.
For questions on Medicare in particular, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) to speak to a Medicare Customer Representative. You can also go to www.medicare.gov to find out more about Medicare coverage. Our staff is also available to help you determine whether the eye care you need is covered by Medicare.
Your out-of-pocket expenses for Medicare or private insurance will depend of the type of insurance you have, whether you have supplemental insurance and whether you have a deductible on your policy. We’ll be glad to process all insurance claims for you. We also accept cash, personal checks, Visa and MasterCard. Ask us too about CareCredit, a healthcare finance source.
The Most Experienced Team… The Most Advanced Technology…for Senior Eye Care
We’ve helped thousands of older patients enjoy better vision. We’re leading the way to better eye care with new diagnostic techniques, new medications and advanced treatment procedures. You can count on us for the most advanced care available.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What kind of Eye Problems do older adults usually have?
One of the most common problems older people encounter are cataracts. This is the clouding of the lens that occurs as a natural consequence of aging. Cataracts can be treated effectively, though, with surgery.
Another problem that displays itself more in older people is macular degeneration (MD). This is an inherited condition in which the macula, an area at the center of the retina, becomes damaged. As a result, a person can lose their ability to focus in the center of their visual field. There are two types of MD: wet, in which there is leakage of blood or serum, and dry, in which there is not. Wet MD can be treated with injections that although can’t cure the condition can slow or keep it in remission. The injection treatment, however, does not work with dry MD.
Another disease more pronounced in older adults is glaucoma. People in their later years are more prone to the effects of this disease in which the pressure of the eye becomes too high. It can be treated with medication or surgery depending on the severity of the disease.
Many people develop Type II diabetes later in life. Eyesight can be affected by this systemic condition that can contribute to cataracts and glaucoma, as well as cause diabetic retinopathy, which can damage the eye retina.
Perhaps, though, the most common vision problem for older adults is presbyopia. This condition often begins around age 40 when eye muscles responsible for focusing on near objects become worn. This problem can be corrected by wearing reading glasses or bifocal/progressive lenses, or as a by-product of cataract surgery, depending on the type of artificial lens (intraocular lens or IOL) implanted.
How often should I have my eyes checked if I’m over fifty?
By and large, eye physicians (including here at Hattiesburg Eye Clinic) recommend a routine eye exam once a year for older adults, unless your eye or vision condition warrants greater monitoring. During the exam we will check your visual acuity (clarity), eye fluid pressure, structural issues such as with the cornea or retina, and for any development of cataracts.
How much does Medicare cover eye care?
It depends on the policy, but typically Medicare will cover 80% of charges related to a medical problem. Medicare doesn’t cover routine exams or glasses – people typically obtain a supplemental insurance plan or pay out of pocket for these other aspects of eye care.
Why do I need reading glasses now that I’m older?
You likely have developed a condition called presbyopia, common in middle-aged and older adults. An eye muscle responsible for focusing in near vision can begin wearing out around age 40 or 45. As the muscle weakens a person will need some form of corrective lenses to accommodate the lack in close-up focus. This could include simple reading glasses or prescription bifocal or progressive lenses. You can also improve symptoms as a by-product of cataract surgery, depending on the type of lens implant used.
What treatment options are there for presbyopia?
Presbyopia is a common condition among people over 40. It happens when the eye muscle responsible for focusing in near vision begins to wear out. Beginning as early as age 40, a person may start having trouble reading or seeing up close, especially with fine print or in dim light.
To accommodate this, people often turn to corrective lenses. For people who haven’t needed corrective lenses before, non-prescription reading glasses may serve the need. Others, especially people already wearing glasses for refractive corrections, may need bifocals, which dedicates the lower portion of the lenses to up-close viewing, or its newer version progressive lenses. You may also be able to obtain a progressive prescription with a contact lens.
Progressive lenses are often the solution of choice because they don’t have the noticeable horizontal line of bifocals. These lenses can be even better attuned to an individual patient if they’re produced digitally rather than with the traditional manual lens grinding procedure.
Finally, people undergoing cataract surgery may find their presbyopia symptoms reduced. This will depend, though, on the type of lens implant or intraocular lens (IOL) to replace the removed natural lens. Some but not all IOLs potentially correct existing refractive problems including presbyopia.
How can diabetes affect my vision?
Type II diabetes is an all too common systemic condition afflicting many older adults. In terms of vision, diabetes can contribute to the development of cataracts and glaucoma.
Another common condition associated with the disease is diabetic retinopathy (DR). In the various stages of DR, blood vessels can develop tiny weaknesses called micro-aneurisms. These can cause bruising or bleeding in the retina, progressing to bleeding in the back of the eye. When this happens the fluid in the eye can contract (known as progressive diabetic retinopathy), which we must then treat with laser or surgery.
Diabetes is a progressive condition that is one of the leading underlying causes of blindness in the U.S. Anyone diagnosed with diabetes or who has a family history of the disease should have their vision checked at least once a year.
What is macular degeneration?
Macular degeneration (MD) is an inherited, non-curable condition in which the macula, an area at the center of the retina, becomes damaged. As a result, a person can lose their ability to focus in the central portion of their visual field making activities like reading or looking straight ahead difficult. The disease must be managed to limit the level of vision loss.
There are two types of MD: wet, in which there is leakage of blood or serum, and dry, in which there is not. Wet MD can be treated with injections that although can’t cure the condition can slow or keep it in remission. The injection treatment, however, does not work with dry MD.
How do you treat macular degeneration?
Anyone diagnosed with macular degeneration (MD) should be evaluated by a retinal specialist. At Hattiesburg Eye Clinic we can examine and diagnose MD and provide treatment up to a certain point. But for the most complete treatment and therapy, we often refer patients to a specialist in this field.
What are floaters in the eye?
Many older people complain of objects in their field of vision that aren’t really there. However, they’re not seeing things – the objects they’re viewing are within the eye itself.
In the back of the eye a space exists filled with a fluid called vitreous. Within this space tiny tissue particles can exist that have been there all our lives but not noticeable if the fluid doesn’t move. As we get older, though, these particles can grow larger while simultaneously moving within the vitreous that is now more active than when we were younger. This creates the conditions for seeing the particle movement which are called floaters.
While distracting, floaters aren’t harmful to the eye. However, you should still have your eyes checked if you see them, especially if symptoms come on suddenly and include flashes of light. These could be signs that the retina has become detached or is bleeding, so you should undergo an examination as soon as possible.
What causes dry eyes?
Dry eyes are typically caused by not having enough tear fluid in the eyes. It’s very common with older adults, as well as with those suffering from diabetes or thyroid disease. Certain medications can also produce dry eyes as a side effect. If you have dry eyes, you can supplement the eye’s natural fluid with artificial tears solutions sold over the counter at stores or pharmacies. For certain dry eye conditions we may prescribe a drug like Restasis® to help relieve symptoms.
– Answers provided by: Stoney Williamson, M.D.