Your Eyes As You Age
No matter how good your eye health has been in the past, after the age of 60, it becomes extremely important schedule regular eye exams with an optometrist or ophthalmologist (eye doctor). Seniors have an increased risk of developing eye diseases that can permanently affect vision and regular exams are the best way to catch them as they develop and are easier to treat.
In fact, many eye diseases will develop slowly over time, may not have any early symptoms, and you may not even notice changes to your vision right away!
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For this reason, it is incredibly important that you talk to a doctor if you or your loved one have experienced any changes in your vision. Seniors should also know a few of the most common eye diseases, such as:
- 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.
- Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye disease that affects the macula (the center of the light-sensitive retina at the back of the eye) and causes central vision loss, while peripheral (side) vision remains unaffected. The macula allows us to see fine detail and colors. Activities like reading, driving, watching TV, and recognizing faces all require good central vision.
Is There More To Know?
So, you’ve scheduled your exam, now what? Well, 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 eyes.
Tip: be sure to bring an extra pair of sunglasses if you or your loved one know that they will be getting their pupils dilated.
Other diseases 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
If you’d like to learn more about eye disease, how regular eye exams can improve senior’s health, or if you’d like to schedule your free in home consultation please, contact us online anytime or call us at (703) 424-9519