Why Eye Exams Are Crucial To Your Health
No matter what your eyesight was like when you were young, the fact is as we age, having regular comprehensive dilated eye exams with an optometrist or ophthalmologist (eye doctor) become increasingly important. After the age of 60, seniors have a higher chance of developing an eye disease that may permanently affect their eyes.
In fact, many common eye diseases develop painlessly over time and have few or no early symptoms so, seniors may not even notice changes to their vision right away.
The best way to prevent this is by keeping up with regularly schedule eye exams and always informing your doctor if you have any changes to your vision. There are also common eye diseases that seniors should be aware of, such as:
- Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases characterized by damage to the optic nerve, resulting in vision loss. People with a family history of glaucoma and older adults have a higher risk. Glaucoma can be painless, with no symptoms. It can take away peripheral (side) vision.
- Diabetic retinopathy is a condition that occurs in people with diabetes. It is the result of progressive damage to the tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina. These damaged blood vessels leak blood and other fluids that cause retinal tissue to swell and cloud vision. The condition usually affects both eyes. The longer a person has diabetes, the greater the risk for developing diabetic retinopathy. At its most severe, diabetic retinopathy can cause blindness.
- Dry eye is a condition in which a person produces too few or poor-quality tears. Tears maintain the health of the front surface of the eye and provide clear vision. Dry eye is a common and often chronic problem, particularly in seniors.
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What Can You Expect?
Now that you’ve gotten your exam scheduled, what can you expect when you get there? Well, during your exam your doctor will test your eye movement, depth perception, eye alignment, and visual acuity (sharpness). The doctor may also use special eye drops to dilate your pupils so that they can see inside your eye.
Be sure to bring a pair of sunglasses, or ask if they offer pairs at the office, if you know you’re pupils will be dilated as the drops can make you sensitive to light.
Your doctor may also be able to check for other eye conditions during your exam such as:
- Diabetes: Diabetes affects the small capillaries in the eye’s retina. These blood vessels may leak blood or a yellowish fluid, which may be discovered in an eye exam. If your eye specialist notices this, you may have a condition called diabetic retinopathy.
- Aneurysm: Tell your eye specialist if you're experiencing blurry vision, eye pain, headaches, or loss of vision. You will also be checked for drooping eyelids (a sign that a blood vessel may have ruptured or is leaking), increased pressure in your eye, bleeding in the retina, and swelling of your optic nerve. Crossed eyes can be a sign of bleeding in the brain, possibly from an aneurysm, or even a stroke.
- Autoimmune disorders: If the eye is inflamed, this may be a sign of Lupus or another disorder.
- High cholesterol: The cornea may have a yellowish appearance or a yellow ring around it which can be a sign of high cholesterol. There also may be plaques in the blood vessels of the retina, which could indicate elevated cholesterol.
If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of eye exams for seniors, how Comfort Keepers® caregivers are exceptional in their care, or if you would like to schedule your free in home consultation please, contact us online anytime or call us at (585) 209-3728.