Changes in Eyes Due to Certain Medical Conditions and Ear Changes Caused by Aging Process
The eyes are our windows to the word. Different medical conditions can cause changes to the eyes. In this discussion I will write about Cataracts, Glaucoma, Diabetes Mellitus, and Chronic Hypertension.
Cataracts is when protein clumps up and clouds the lens, this reduces the light that reaches the retina. The easiest symptom to see objectively is clouded eyes. The patient complains of sensitivity to light and glares. Difficulty with night vision and halos around lights is also a complaint. Blurred vision is reported due to seeing thru clouded eyes.
Glaucoma causes damage to the optic nerve and gets worse over time. It can cause vision loss and blindness overtime. Early treatment can protect from vision loss. Symptoms can be hazy or blurred vision, rainbow colored circles around bright lights, severe eye and head pain, nausea and vomiting with eye pain and sudden eye loss.
Diabetes Mellitus can lead to Diabetic Retinopathy which affects vessels in the light sensitive tissue called the retina. This is the leading cause of blindness among the working age. Symptoms can be wavy vision, color changes, spots or floaters, trouble with night vision. Increase in sugar level causes the lens of the eye to swell which affects vision. Decrease in sugar level causes blurriness and double vision.
Chronic Hypertension can cause damage to the blood vessels in the retina, the area at the back of the eye where images focus, this is known as hypertensive retinopathy. This can lead to blindness. Symptoms can be fluid oozing from blood vessels, double vision, blurred vision, swelling of the optic nerve or macula, and spots on retina known as cotton wool spots.
These conditions can be managed and prevented in some cases if not most with proper attention and education.
There are changes to the ears due to the aging process. Older adults should be asked about hearing loss, vertigo, ringing in the ears ( tinnitus), and even dizziness.
Otoslerosis is a possibility especially in older adults. Otoslerosis happens due to slow fusion of ossicles in the middle ear, this obstructs sound waves. This can cause difficulty with distinguishing sounds when it is noisy. Mumbled speech can also be a symptom.
Presbycusis happens over time and it is a natural sensor neural loss. The hair cells in the cochlea become less flexible. Hearing deficiency is a symptom.
During Review of Systems these conditions should be asked about. Sometimes patients are not even aware of these changes and need to be educated so they can seek help.
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