How Eye Exams Can Improve Senior Health
No matter what your eyes were like when you were young, regular eye exams become more important as you reach your senior years. After turning 60, there is an increased likelihood that you may develop an eye disease that can permanently affect your vision and a comprehensive dilated eye exam by an optometrist or ophthalmologist (eye doctor) is necessary to find eye diseases early when treatment to prevent vision loss proves most effective.
While there are warning signs for age-related eye health problems that could cause vision loss, many eye diseases have no early symptoms!
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In fact, they may develop painlessly, and you may not notice changes to your vision until the condition has already progressed! Of course, be sure to talk to your eye doctor if you do notice changes to your vision. Below are a few vision disorders that seniors should be aware of:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
What Else Should You Know?
During your eye exam, visual acuity (sharpness), depth perception, eye alignment, and eye movement are tested and special eye drops are used to make your pupils larger so your eye specialist can see inside your eyes. In addition to eye health, he or she may spot other health conditions, too.
These eye conditions can include but, are not limited to:
- Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye disease that affects the macula vessels of the retina, which could indicate elevated cholesterol.
- Mental Health: People with mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder usually have different eye tracking patterns. Eye specialists can now map those movements through technology.
- 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.
- Thyroid disease: One of the signs of thyroid disease are bulging eyes or protruding eyeballs. This condition is also known as Graves Disease.
- Cancer: Just like you can get freckles and melanoma on your skin, you can also get skin cancer of the eye. If you see a speck in your eye, ask your eye specialist to examine it. He or she will also check your eye color and pattern to make sure everything looks normal.
If you’d like to learn more about how regular eye exams can help you or your loved one safeguard your eye health, how our caregivers can help seniors establish healthy routines that promote independence, or if you would like to schedule your free care consultation please, contact us online anytime or call us .