Archive for May, 2011

Quality of Life program explores the eyes

William G. Grant. M. D. of Vision Mission GroupWilliam G. Grant, O.D. of Vision Mission Group will present a ‘Quality of Life’ health seminar about the eyes at 10 a.m. Thursday, May 26, at the Timbers of Shorewood retirement community, 1100 N. River Rd., Shorewood. The public is welcome to join the residents for this free presentation.

As the economic crisis continues, some seniors may believe it’s reasonable to skip their annual eye exam. But for the older population, it’s critically important to keep tabs on the silent stealers of sight – cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic eye disease.

By age 65, one-in-three Americans have some form of vision-impairing eye disease.

By detecting and treating eye disease early through annual, comprehensive dilated exams, seniors can do so much to preserve their sight.


A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision. Most cataracts are related to aging and are very common in older people. In fact, by age 80, more than half of all Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery.

The symptoms of early cataracts may include fading colors, poor night vision, cloudy or blurry vision, double vision, or frequent prescription changes. These symptoms can be improved with new eyeglasses, brighter lighting, anti-glare sunglasses, or magnifying lenses. If such remedies don’t help, surgery is the only effective treatment. Surgery involves removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with an artificial lens. The visual results are typically excellent with modern surgical techniques.


Glaucoma is a disease that can damage the eye’s optic nerve. It is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States and the most common cause of blindness among African-Americans. More than three million Americans have glaucoma, but half do not realize it because there are often no warning symptoms.

In most cases, there are no symptoms during the early stages of the disease. However, as glaucoma progresses, it slowly damages the optic nerve fibers of the eye and the peripheral field of vision narrows which can create “blind spots.” Anyone age 60 or older are at risk and especially so if there’s a family history of glaucoma

Medication in the form of eyedrops or pills is the most common early treatment for glaucoma. Laser procedures or surgery are available options when needed.

Age related macular degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) is a leading cause of vision loss in Americans 50 years of age and older. ARMD is a disease that blurs the sharp, central vision you need for straight-ahead activities such as reading, sewing, and driving. ARMD affects the macula, the part of the eye that allows you to see fine detail.

ARMD occurs in both a wet and dry form of the condition. Slow occurring or “dry” ARMD affects 90 percent of those with the condition. Fast occurring or “wet” ARMD affects 10 percent of ARMD cases. Slightly blurred vision is the most common symptom of ARMD. Other symptoms may include wavy lines or a blind spot in the center of the field of vision. Those at risk are people over age 75, women, smokers, those with a family history of the disease, and people with elevated cholesterol.

Medication and/or laser surgery can aid some cases of wet ARMD. At the present time, there is no effective treatment for advanced dry ARMD, however treatment can delay and possibly prevent intermediate ARMD from progressing. More ways to slow the progression is to take a good multi-vitamin, stop smoking, wear UV protective sunglasses outdoors, and eat plenty of green leafy vegetables.

Diabetic eye disease

Approximately 16 million people in the United States have diabetes and one-third of them do not know it. People with diabetes are 25 times more likely to become blind. With early detection and proper treatment, severe visual loss can usually be prevented.

Diabetic retinopathy is the most common diabetic eye disease and is a leading cause of blindness in American adults. It is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye. In some people with diabetic retinopathy, blood vessels may swell and leak fluid. In other people, abnormal new blood vessels grow on the surface of the retina. Laser procedures and surgery are available options when needed.

People with diabetes should have a professional eye examination as soon as their diabetes is diagnosed and at least once a year thereafter. It is also extremely important to monitor and manage blood sugar levels. By detecting and treating diabetic eye disease early through annual, dilated eye exams, people with diabetes can preserve their site.

The Timbers of Shorewood is a rental retirement community which provides independent and assisted living apartments and a full schedule of activities and services. Furnished apartments are also available for a short-term stay – a weekend, a week, a month or longer.

For more information, call Shelly Goggins at 815-609-0669 or visit


Another Bruise?

What causes that dark, unsightly mark on a limb known as a bruise? Unable to remember bumping into anything, an older adult may be baffled about how a new bruise happened. It’s common to experience easy bruising with increasing age, because blood vessels become more fragile with age.

Bruises result when trauma or a blow to the body damages or ruptures tiny blood vessels under the skin. Not only are the elderly more prone to bruising, less force is required to cause a bruise. And with greater impact, deeper bruises of the muscles or bone can happen, which take longer to heal.

According to A Place for Mom, the medical term for a bruise is a contusion. What happens is blood leaks out of the vessels and initially appears as a bright or dark red, purple or black mark. Eventually the body reabsorbs the blood, and the mark disappears. If a bruise increases in size and becomes swollen and hard, it may be a hematoma, a localized collection of blood which becomes clotted or partially clotted.

Some people – especially women – are more prone to bruising than are others. In fact, several factors may contribute to increased bruising, including (Mayo Clinic):

  • Aging capillaries – Over time, the tissues supporting these vessels weaken, and capillary walls become more fragile and prone to rupture.
  • Thinning skin – With age, skin becomes thinner and loses some of the protective fatty layer that helps cushion blood vessels against injury. Excessive exposure to the sun accelerates the aging process in the skin.

Generally, the harder the blow, the larger the bruise. However, if a person bruises easily, a minor bump – one they may not even notice – can result in substantial discoloration. Arms and legs are typical locations for bruises.

Blood-thinning drugs such as aspirin and warfarin (Coumadin) or medications such as clopidogrel (Plavix) reduce the blood’s ability to clot. Because of this, bleeding from capillary damage that would normally stop quickly may take longer to stop, allowing enough blood to leak out to cause a bruise.

In addition, certain dietary supplements such as fish oil and ginkgo also may increase bruising, because these supplements have a blood-thinning effect. Make certain the doctor knows about any supplements.

Bruise prevention

Below are some steps to take to prevent bruising from falls and collisions:

  • Hold the handrails on stairways.
  • Don’t stand on a chair to get to something.
  • Clear floors where you walk.
  • Mount grab bars near toilets, tubs and showers.
  • Place non-skid mats, strips, or carpet on all surfaces that may get wet.
  • Put night lights and light switches close to your bed.
  • Tack down all carpets and area rugs.
  • Always close cabinet doors and drawers so you won’t run into them.
  • Be especially careful around pets.
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