Vision loss is a common problem for aging adults.
Those over 65 make up about 13 percent of the US population, yet they account for about 30 percent of all visually impaired individuals, according to the CDC.
Be the apple of your eyes.
Aging increases your risk for certain types of eye conditions that can lead to blindness. Regular eye exams are the very best way to avoid vision problems.
Warning signs everyone needs to be aware of. See an eye doctor immediately if you experience:
• Spots or floaters in your field of vision
Usually, these are associated with a benign condition called vitreous detachment, which often happens with age. But if you have a sudden onset of spots and floaters in your visual field, they can signal something that may threaten your sight such as a serious tear or detachment of the retina.
• A dark curtain across your field of view
This can signal that your retina has separated from its underlying blood vessels, and needs to be reattached immediately.
• Cloudy and blurred eyesight
Along with the appearance of halos around lights at night and the loss of your ability to see bright colors, these vision changes can signal cataracts. Cataracts are not a medical emergency, but eventually could lead to blindness unless you have cataract surgery.
• Scratchy, tearing eyes
This can be caused by dry eye syndrome, which is not usually a medical emergency, and can be treated with prescription eye drops.
• Painful eyes with nausea and vomiting
This can signal an acute attack of narrow-angle glaucoma, which can cause permanent damage unless treated.
• Blind spots
If you have diabetes and experience blind spots in your field of view, you may have diabetic retinopathy, a vision-threatening damage to your retina. Diabetic retinopathy is often preventable, so if you have diabetes, take special care to get regular eye exams.
• Double vision
Double vision can sometimes signal a serious underlying condition, such as stroke. If you have double vision, see a doctor immediately.
• Narrowing of your field of vision
This can be caused by glaucoma that has damaged your optic nerve. Without medical treatment, vision loss can continue.
• A loss of your central field of vision
This symptom is often caused by macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness among seniors. Today, therapy can help halt the progress of macular degeneration, and even may help you regain some vision.
• Blurred vision in one eye
This can signal that you’ve developed a macular hole in your retina. Without treatment, this condition can worsen and cause permanent damage, so seek treatment immediately.
The Eyes Have It!
Getting regular eye exams is the best way to prevent these problems before they begin. If you’ve been procrastinating on scheduling an eye exam, today is the day!
Lois Young-Tulin, PhD, is an Assistant Geriatric Care Manager at Complete Care Strategies