Seeing the beauty, hazards and even the everyday life around us is precious – - but an ability we often take for granted.
While we often accepted diminished eyesight as a part of growing older, aging can bring with it problems up to and including total loss of the ability to see.
It is important to help keep our senior loved ones’ eyes functioning properly to avoid these problems.
Seniors’ eyes change over time and oftentimes vision can become impaired. Vision health needs to be protected as we age because it is often lost for good when trouble occurs, since much eye damage cannot be reversed.
We need to urge our senior loved ones to get get the recommended dilated eye exam annually and have an eye care professional examine them, not only for eye damage but also other potential signs of chronic diseases that can be seen under exam. Looking directly at the retina is the best way for your doctor to help our seniors keep their vision intact and spot trouble early.
Important parts of the eye to protect include the lens, cornea, retina and optic nerve.
The retina is the lining at the back of the eye which receives light through the lens, creating a picture that is sent to the brain. This is what we see. If the retina is not functioning properly, it will have difficulty sending the image on to the brain. This is what we know as impaired vision and even blindness.
Doctors can see blood vessels in the retina, which helps them uncover other chronic diseases, including hypertension, diabetes, and stroke. These annual inspections of your senior’s retina can lead to early detection and treatment of these other diseases.
Eye Diseases of Concern for Seniors
Age-related macular degeneration is a disease in the center of the retina, known as the macula, which results in a loss of central vision. It can impact seniors’ ability to drive, read and complete other daily activities.
Glaucoma is caused by pressure and damage of the optic nerve. This eye disease progresses, usually without symptoms, but can be treated to improve your senior’s vision.
Cataracts occur when the lens of eye loses clarity and becomes cloudy, impairing the ability of the eye to focus light. Surgery with lens implants can help to repair loss of vision.
Presbyopia is a condition of aging in which the lens has difficulty focusing structures in the eye, causing difficulty with reading and up close vision. Unfortunately, this condition affects many of us and is not preventable. Usually correction with glasses, contacts or surgery is required to clarify our vision.
Dry eyes are a common occurrence as we age since our eyes lose their ability to lubricate, often resulting in blurred vision. Artificial tears and medications that increase natural tears will help.
Keeping Seniors’ (& Our Own) Eyes Healthy
- Eat healthy foods, such as fresh fruit and vegetables rich in antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids found in fish
- Limit fat in the diet, as well as alcohol which can block blood vessels
- Wear sunglasses, even when you are driving
- If smoking, stop
- Participate in regular exercise to keep circulation flowing
- Don’t forget that annual eye exam!
We have so much to enjoy with our eyes – grandkids, family, spouse, friends, flowers, birds, butterflies, blue skies and rainy days. Help senior loved ones to maintain healthy eyes to continue to enjoy taking in the views as long as possible.