Protecting Seniors’ Vision as They Age

The bluebirds building a nest in your senior’s apple tree, the sun rising on the morning horizon, a rainbow after a summer rain, the face your senior loves-grandchild or spouse, and the Sunday comics are pleasures we all want our seniors to enjoy throughout their lifetimes.  However, as they age their vision can become impaired causing the view they once took for granted to become problematic.

For many people, the age of 40 marks a slow decline in vision to the point where we might need glasses for reading and end up having a pair of “readers” in every room.  This is a normal part of aging that usually doesn’t reduce our enjoyment of life or our independence.

Unfortunately there are other conditions that can affect our senior’s eyesight even to the point of blindness as they age that are best treated if caught early.  Everyone is at greater risk of eye disease as they age. Therefore, we want to highlight a few of these as we celebrate National Vision Month.

  • Macular Degeneration – common among people aged 60 years and older and the leading cause of vision loss at this age, this condition affects the part of the eye that help see objects clearly.  There are two forms: dry and wet.  Treatment will slow the loss of vision but will not fully restore it.
  • Cataracts – a clouding of the lens of the eyes, it is very common in older adults.  Usually this vision impairment can be restored with surgery for lens implants.
  • Diabetic retinopathy – this is common in people who have diabetes and is caused by damage to the blood vessels in the retina, it can be helped with good blood sugar control or if more advanced, treated with laser surgery
  • Low vision-vision impairment that even with correction of eyeglasses, surgery, contact lenses or medications everyday tasks are very difficult to accomplish.  This lost vision cannot be restored but can be treated by a specialist.
  • Glaucoma – a condition where the optic nerve becomes damaged causing difficulty transmitting visual information from the eye to the brain often a result of increased pressure in the eye, this is the second leading cause of blindness in the US, treatment focuses on reducing the pressure in the eye with medications or surgery

Everyone over 50 years should get a dilated eye exam and have annual exams from an eye care specialist.  A dilated exam will allow your doctor to identify any conditions early so that your senior can get the treatment he or she needs to maintain their vision as long as possible.

Taking care of your senior’s eyes is just one way you can keep your senior healthy and able to live life to its fullest.  Protect your senior’s eyes so that they can continue to enjoy the colors of life!

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