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Good vision in old age

Prof. Dr. med. Matthias Becker

Prof. Dr. med. Matthias Becker

October 12, 2023

reading time

8 min

In our exclusive interview with Prof. Becker, Head Physician at Zollikerberg Eye Centre, we share valuable tips on eye health in old age.

Prof Becker, what is your general advice for maintaining good eye health in old age?

To keep the eyes healthy, the general health recommendations such as a healthy diet, plenty of exercise, no smoking, etc. are also important here. I also recommend regular preventive eye examinations for all older people. Many eye diseases are completely asymptomatic for a long time, but cause irreversible damage to the eyes (e.g. glaucoma or macular degeneration). Timely treatment can often stop the progression of the disease or at least slow it down significantly. In any form of acute visual impairment, the eyes should be examined by an ophthalmologist as soon as possible.

Can the eyes be trained? Is it possible to take preventative measures in everyday life at a younger age?

"You can't feel healthy eyes" - we often take the vision of our eyes, through which we perceive 80 per cent of our environment, far too much for granted. Take care of this marvellous gift of nature. Treat your eyes like a raw egg and do everything you can to make them feel good. Always wear the best possible glasses correction, take regular breaks when reading or working on the computer, look into the distance during breaks to relieve the strain or close your eyes for a longer moment. "Listen" to your eyes! Your eyes will give you plenty of signals as to what is and isn't good for them.

How does cataract usually manifest itself? When is cataract surgery unavoidable?

There are many different types of cataract. Lens opacification can occur at any age. However, cataracts are most common in older people. The most typical symptoms are increasing blurred vision, noticeable changes in spectacle values, reduced colour perception ("yellow tint") and increased sensitivity to glare.

How carefully do people generally treat their eyes? Can you give some examples?

A classic example: a very short-sighted patient who has never been to an ophthalmologist and was not informed that short-sightedness is a risk factor for retinal detachment. A few weeks ago, a visual disturbance occurred in one eye, which he ignored ("it will go away..."). He has been unable to read in that eye for a fortnight now. His friends urged him to see an ophthalmologist. He sends the patient straight to us. Diagnosis: retinal detachment. This has to be operated on. Unfortunately, the eye's vision only recovers to around 40 per cent because the retinal detachment has existed for far too long before the operation. If vision loss has occurred after a retinal detachment, it must be operated on within a time frame of approx. 48 hours in order to restore 100 per cent vision.

Does the use of smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc. really impair vision?

Today's monitor systems do not damage the eyes. But you should also take breaks etc. here, as mentioned above.

The number of specialised doctors in Switzerland is constantly increasing, so why is it still so important to have your own ophthalmologist that you see regularly? How does the Zollikerberg Eye Centre differ from an ordinary ophthalmologist's practice?

Everyone should have "their" ophthalmologist, just like a family doctor, dentist or gynaecologist. By this I mean a contact person who knows me and my eyes, who I trust and who I can go to quickly if a problem arises. Simply in the sense of an established network. Most examinations can be carried out there in the practice without any problems. There are sometimes more complex eye diseases for which you have to be referred to a specialist clinic for more complex additional examinations with interdisciplinary links to the neighbouring specialist areas. The closer such specialised outpatient clinics are linked to the respective practice, the better the flow of information for patients. This is crucial for the success of treatment. At the Zollikerberg Eye Centre, we have access to a comprehensive range of specialists at the Triemli Eye Clinic and all interdisciplinary specialist outpatient clinics at the Triemli site. Some of the specialists also hold consultations at Zollikerberg so that you already know your surgeon if a complex operation is required that cannot be offered at Zollikerberg Hospital. Waid and Triemli City Hospitals and Zollikerberg Hospital are among the most modern hospitals in Switzerland. If an operation or hospitalisation is necessary for your eyes, we can continue to treat them seamlessly. I am sure that you will feel at home with us.

Portrait photo of Prof Dr med Matthias Becker

Prof. Dr. med. Matthias Becker

Head Physician, Zollikerberg Eye Centre

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