What are the common eye procedures for those over 55s?

There are many things we expect to change as we age, the condition of our eyes being one of them. The development of cataracts is often top of mind. Their removal, combined with the insertion of a replacement lens, is the most frequently performed surgery for those over 55s. But, what other eye procedures may be required as the eyes age?

Ageing affects the retina at the back of the eye and the gel substance inside the eyeball, as do age-related chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. These changes can result in macular holes, retinal detachments or vitreous haemorrhages in the inner layers of the back of the eye. Conservative management will likely not be sufficient and a posterior vitrectomy to repair the retina may be required. Prevention through control of chronic conditions is best, but any sudden changes in vision such as clouding, flashers or floaters, or dark patches should be assessed.

Increased eye pressure resulting in the gradual deterioration of the optic nerve fibres (Glaucoma) is not uncommon in older adults, especially if there is a family history of the diagnosis. Your ophthalmologist can usually control it with a variety or combination of eye drops. There are occasions when the pressure in the eye needs to be reduced through surgical procedures including laser trabeculectomy, trabeculectomy or the insertion of drainage devices, stents or valves. The pressure inside your eye should be checked annually by your Optometrist or Ophthalmologist.
Patches of discoloured, raised or flaky skin are often seen on exposed areas as a result of the southern hemisphere sun during younger years. The sensitive eyelids are no different and any unusual patches need to be assessed by an Ophthalmologist or Oculoplastic surgeon. Biopsies or removal of the lesions may be required if suspicious, and the samples are sent for testing at the laboratory. Changes in the skin anywhere should be monitored, even taking photographs to remind yourself of what is developing.

If you have symptoms or would like to discuss procedures or treatment options please don’t hesitate to contact us. For emergencies, we have an Ophthalmologist on call, 24/7 365 days a year.

Allison Deysel
Hospital Manager
Pietermaritzburg Eye Hospital