Of the 38 million people who are blind, the majority, 22 million, are 60 years of age or older. The most common causes of vision loss in elderly people are age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataract, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. Of these, AMD is the leading cause of registered blindness in people over the age of 50 years in the western world. However, until recently, the treatment options for people with AMD have been severely limited. Verteporfin therapy is a new treatment that is efficacious and safe in selected patients with AMD who are at high risk of central vision loss. Physicians who are in regular contact with elderly people can help to minimize vision loss in this group of patients by being alert to the symptoms and signs of age-related eye diseases. This paper reviews each of the common eye diseases, with an emphasis on AMD because of the recent advances in treatment.
Copyright 2003 S. Karger AG, Basel