Why You Should Care About Eye Exams
As we age, comprehensive dilated eye exams from an optometrist or ophthalmologist (eye doctor) become more important. After the age of 60, seniors have an increased risk of developing an eye disease that could permanently affect their vision and regular eye exams can help catch them early, when treatment will be most effective.
Many eye diseases will develop painlessly over time and have few or no early symptoms! On top of this, seniors may not even notice changes to their vision right away.
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This means it is crucial that seniors inform their doctor if they have any changes to their vision. There are also a few common eye diseases that seniors should be aware of, including but not limited to:
- 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.
- Retinal detachment is a tearing or separation of the retina from the underlying tissue, and most often occurs spontaneously due to changes to the gel-like vitreous fluid that fills the back of the eye. Other causes include trauma to the eye or head, health problems like advanced diabetes, and inflammatory eye disorders. If not treated promptly, it can cause permanent vision loss.
- 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.
What You Can Expect
Now that you know why you should be keeping your sure to have regular eye exams, what can you expect when you get there? During your eye exam, your doctor will test your depth perception, eye alignment, visual acuity (sharpness), and your eye movement. They will also use special eye drops to dilate your pupils (make them larger) so that they can see the inside your your eyes.
This can cause sensitivity to light, so you or your loved one should wear sunglasses if you know your pupils will be dilated.
Other eye conditions that your eye doctor may be able to spot include:
- 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.
- Multiple Sclerosis: Most eye tics are benign, but can also be an early indicator of neurological diseases like multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s. Your eye specialist can help with early diagnoses by checking for anomalies in your retina and optic nerve.
- Hypertension: Blood vessels in the eye may exhibit bends, kinks, or tears, which may indicate high blood pressure, a known risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and other illnesses, including blindness.
- Autoimmune disorders: If the eye is inflamed, this may be a sign of Lupus or another disorder.
If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of eye exams for seniors, how Comfort Keepers® personal care is unique, or if you would like to schedule your free in home consultation please, contact us online anytime or call us at (267) 293-7434.