Q: My mom had age-related macular degeneration. Is this inherited? Should my family be tested?

A: As the most common cause of vision loss among people over the age of 60, macular degeneration impacts millions of older adults every year. You may be three times as likely to develop the condition if you have a close relative who has the disease. However, the disease does not necessarily progress in the same way in all family members.

Early detection of macular degeneration gives you the best options for successful treatment and stabilization of the condition in the future. You should have regular eye exams with an ophthalmologist or optometrist for early detection of the disease.

It is important that your mother, who has already been diagnosed with macular degeneration, continue regular eye exams to monitor her condition, and to check for other conditions such as glaucoma and cataracts. If you experience any sudden vision changes, contact your doctor immediately. – Dr. Eleanor E. Faye, M.D., FACS, Lighthouse International

Q: I’m having problems reading small type. What font is easiest to read?

A: Small print gets more difficult to read as you get older because of the development of a condition known as presbyopia. The lens of the eye becomes less flexible (this is known as accommodation), as we all age, making reading more difficult. It is very important therefore that you get a complete eye examination by an ophthalmologist or optometrist for the appropriate distance, intermediate, or near glasses and to screen for any eye diseases. Intermediate vision is especially important in the modern world with the necessity of being plugged in to the world through the computer.

With regards to users of Blackberries or other PDA devices, I suggest using a 16 point sans serif font. I also recommend sans serif font (e.g. Verdana) for the computer as well with an increase in the font size as well as bold facing letters. – Dr. Bruce Rosenthal, Chief of Low Vision Programs, Lighthouse International

Q: I was told I have bilateral iritis. What is it and how did I cause it? How can I prevent this from happening again?

A: Bilateral iritis means that there is inflammation affecting the colored portion of your eye, the iris. Bilateral iritis is likely to be associated with a systemic condition. If there is presence of an inflammation affecting other parts of your body, then it can also present with inflammation in the eyes. Therefore it is important that lab tests are performed to determine if there is an underlying cause. If the underlying cause can be determined (some cases of iritis have an unknown cause), proper treatment will be established to resolve the condition. Continue with the eye examinations by your optometrist or ophthalmologist. – Linda Pang, O.D. at Lighthouse International



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