As people age, they face an increasing likelihood that they will suffer from eye problems. Eye problems that affect seniors can be very serious and may even result in blindness. For this reason, seniors who are living alone and those who are their caregivers need to be alert for any sign that problems may be developing in one or both eyes. Seniors who lose their vision are more likely to lose their independence and require assistance for their daily living. For this reason, a regular eye exam once a year should be part of routine health care for all seniors.
October is National Eye Health Month, so it’s the perfect time to examine eye care, potential issues, and treatments.
Eye Problems That May Affect Seniors
There are a number of different eye problems that can affect older people. An eye specialist should be consulted if a routine checkup reveals any of the following problems:
- Corneal disease
- Retinal disease
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Macular degeneration
Some of the most common causes of blindness in seniors are discussed below.
Cataracts commonly form on the cornea of the eye as a person gets older. The cornea gradually becomes clouded until it becomes completely opaque, causing blindness in the eye that is affected. Cataract removal is a very common operation and is performed on millions of elderly people every year. If the operation is successful, vision will be restored completely in the affected eye.
Most of the people who suffer from blindness caused by Macular degeneration are over the age of 70. At present, there is no cure for macular degeneration. Although the person suffering from this condition will lose the ability to see objects in the center of the field of vision, the peripheral vision will not be affected.
Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness in seniors and occurs after a person has suffered for many years with Diabetes mellitus. Diabetes is a condition in which the body is not able to use glucose properly because of a lack of insulin. When blood sugar levels cannot be controlled, various parts of the body may be severely damaged. Controlling blood sugar levels carefully can prevent the development of blindness because of diabetes.
Glaucoma is a progressive condition in which pressure builds up in the fluid inside the eye and causes permanent damage to the optic nerve, which transmits signals from the eye to the brain where the signals are interpreted. Glaucoma is the second most common reason for loss of vision in seniors.
Take Good Care of Your Eyes
Here are some eye care tips that will keep your eyes healthier:
- A nutritious diet containing a lot of brightly colored fruits and vegetables can help your eyes stay healthy
- Be sure to have adequate lighting when you read
- Avoid staring at a computer screen for too long
When to Seek Treatment for Eye Problems
Even if there are no apparent vision problems, seniors should have their eyes checked by an optometrist or family doctor at least once a year. In Canada, a visit for a yearly eye checkup may be covered under the provincial health plan or under a supplemental health plan.
If a checkup reveals that there is a problem with the eyes, an appointment should be made immediately with an eye specialist. Any senior who has diabetes must be monitored constantly for blood sugar levels and the development of side effects common to diabetes. Any sudden change in vision should be checked by a doctor.
For More Information
Visit these websites to learn more about eye care for seniors in Canada: