What Makes Eye Exams So Important For Senior Health?
As we age, it becomes more and more important for seniors to have regular comprehensive, dilated eye exams. After the age of 60, seniors have an increased chance of developing an eye disease that could permanently damage their eyes.
Seniors may not even notice changes to their eyesight right away as many eye ailments have few or no early symptoms and may even develop painlessly.
For this reason, seniors should always be sure to inform their doctor of any changes they notice in their vision. Seniors can also learn about some of the more common eye diseases, such as:
- 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.
- Cataracts are cloudy or opaque areas in the normally clear lens of the eye. Depending upon their size and location, they can interfere with normal vision. Usually cataracts develop in both eyes, but one may be worse than the other. Cataracts can cause blurry vision, decreased contrast sensitivity, dulling of colors, and increased sensitivity to glare.
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What Should I Expect?
Now that you have a better understanding of why you should have regular eye exams, what can you expect when you actually get one? Your doctor will test your visual acuity (sharpness), depth perception, eye alignment, and eye movement are tested. They may also use special drops to dilate your pupils in order to see inside your eye.
Tip: Bring a pair of sunglasses if you know your pupils will be dilated, as you may be sensitive to light for a few hours afterwards!
Your doctor may be able to see other health conditions as well, including:
- Tumors: You will be checked for blurry vision, improper pupil dilation (one eye dilating more than the other or remaining fixed), and optic nerve color. If something seems irregular, you may be referred to a neurologist.
- 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.
- Thyroid disease: One of the signs of thyroid disease are bulging eyes or protruding eyeballs. This condition is also known as Graves Disease.
- Vitamin A Deficiency: If you're not getting enough fruits and veggies (from foods like sweet potatoes, greens, cantaloupe, and carrots), you may develop night blindness and vision loss. Your eye specialist will check the surface of your eye for damage. Mention if you're having trouble seeing at night.
If you’d like to learn more about how regular eye exams can benefit seniors, how Comfort Keepers® care services are unique, or if you’d like to schedule your free care consultation please, contact us online anytime or call us at (610) 563-2968.