Eye Problems and Seniors

As you grow older you become more susceptible to developing eye problems, such as cataracts and vision loss.

If left untreated for a prolonged period, you may suffer permanent damage to your eyes and field of vision. To ensure you are detecting eye problems before these issues become irreversible, you will need to have routine eye exams performed annually. After you have turned 60 years old, conducting routine eye exams with your optometrist each year is essential for maintaining your overall eye health.

Eye problems can cause changes to your lifestyle and quality of life if you allow them to remain unchecked. Receiving the proper treatment for your eye issues in your senior years can help you live a more fulfilling and independent lifestyle. Whether you are suffering from dry eye or glaucoma, there are numerous solutions available to help restore your vision before the effects have fully taken place or prevent the issues from becoming worse

Common Eye Problems in Seniors

Understanding the common eye problems you may encounter in your senior years will help you take the preventative measures necessary to ensure these problems do not become debilitating. Many of these issues will not have detectable symptoms in the earliest stages and being proactive about your vision health is essential to preventing diseases from advancing. If you are currently taking medication for high blood pressure, you may be at an increased risk for developing eye problems. To ensure you are detecting ailments before they fully emerge, you will need to be mindful of these common eye problems:

  • Cataracts are a clouding in the lens portion of your eye. Cataracts may also cause the lens area to become opaque, depending upon the severity. Cataracts can develop in both eyes, although commonly one eye will experience more difficulty than the other. If left untreated, this ailment can directly interfere with your field of vision. Side effects of cataracts include blurred vision, decreases in contrast sensitivity, and the dulling of colors. If you are experiencing these issues, you will need to speak with your optometrist to determine the best course of treatment.
  • Age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, is an eye disease common in aging adults and leads to the gradual decline of your central vision. Your central vision is necessary for completing everyday tasks, such as reading or driving. Your peripheral vision will not be affected by AMD as this disease typically occurs in the macula portion of your eye near your retina. AMD can affect your ability to clear see details which can prove detrimental to your overall quality of life.
  • Dry eye is a common condition in seniors and can become a chronic issue if left untreated. Dry eye is a medical condition categorized by the inability to produce quality tears. Your production of tears is essential in maintaining the health of the surface of your eye, as well as in maintaining a clear field of vision.
  • Glaucoma is a cluster of eye diseases causing damage to your optic nerve and may result in loss of vision if left untreated. Glaucoma does not always have detectable symptoms. Receiving your annual eye exam can help you to detect glaucoma before it has developed to the point of decrease in peripheral vision. If you have a family history of glaucoma you may be more susceptible to developing it during your senior years. African Americans also have an increased risk of glaucoma.

Many of these issues will not display warning signs in advance. If you have noticed any changes in your vision, you should speak with your optometrist directly about the issues you are experiencing. Do not wait for your next scheduled eye exam before speaking to your eye doctor about vision problems if you are experiencing noticeable changes that are beginning to affect your lifestyle. Speak with your eye doctor about issues as they occur so you can determine the right level of treatment for the ailment you are experiencing.

How to Detect Eye Problems in Seniors

During your routine eye exam each year, your optometrist will conduct a series of tests to determine whether you have developed an eye problem since your last visit. One of the most widely used tests you will encounter at the optometrist is the comprehensive dilated eye exam. During this exam, your eye doctor will dilate your eyes as this can help detect any eye problems you may be experiencing. In doing so, you will be able to detect diseases before they develop to the point of vision loss. Even if you do not believe you are experiencing eye problems, be sure to visit your eye doctor each year anyway, as these issues can develop within a short span of time.

If you are speaking with your eye doctor as issues appear, you will be able to discuss medication, surgeries or other treatment methods to prevent the spread of an eye disease you are suffering from. Additionally, your optometrist will speak with you about creating an eye exam schedule based around your specific eye health needs. He or she may indicate you need to come in more than once per year to ensure the treatment you are receiving for an eye problem is working effectively. If you do not have an eye problem but meet certain factors for risk, your optometrist may request frequent comprehensive dilated eye exams to monitor your eye health over time.

How to Treat Eye Problems with Loss of Vision

If you have experienced vision loss as the result of an eye problem, there are numerous ways to combat this negative effect on your lifestyle. You may speak with your eye doctor about the possibility of joining a low-vision rehabilitation program. Service providers from this program will help you learn techniques that will allow you to perform your daily activities with a lower level of vision. By engaging in a low-vision rehabilitation program, you can maintain your independence well into your senior years, regardless of your vision level.

Other treatment options you may want to try include:

  • Spectacle-mounted telescopes and handheld telescopes.
  • Magnifying lenses mounted in spectacles.
  • Handheld magnifiers and stand magnifiers.
  • Video magnification systems.

You may also find it useful to purchase large print books and magazines or purchase books on tape as a way of maintaining a personal hobby through loss of vision. Your optometrist can help you identify helpful tools you can purchase when experiencing vision loss to ensure you are able to indulge in your hobbies well into your senior years.

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