Deteriorating vision is a natural part of aging, but eye health can be maintained to help the prevention of severe eye conditions and loss of vision.
One natural occurrence when it comes to aging eyes is a condition known as presbyopia. This is not a serious condition that poses a threat to overall health.
Presbyopia is what happens to most of us sometime in our 40s. It begins with a thickening of the lens in the eye, which contributes to the lens losing its elasticity. This loss of elasticity results in the inability to focus on close by objects.
This is one of the milder eye conditions that typically comes with age. Generally, the outcome is nothing worse the inconvenience of having to wear specialized glasses.
There are, however, other possible eye problems that can spell big trouble for older adults if not treated in a timely fashion.
The best way to stay on top of eye health, and prevent major issues before they start, is by having regular eye exams with your doctor or healthcare professional.
Warning Signs for Serious Eye Problems
Staying proactive when it comes to eye care is incredibly important because there are several severe eye conditions which can end up leaving seniors with permanent vision loss and even blindness.
Some symptoms to pay attention for vision protection, may be:
- Affected depth perception
- Compromised spatial acuity
- Inability to accurately judge distances
- Difficulty reading small print
- Adjusting from light to dark, and vice versa, takes longer
- Problems distinguishing contrasts and colors
- Hypersensitivity to sunlight, bright lights, glare
- Chronic dry eyes
- Incessant watering or tearing
While instances of some of these symptoms may be normal and non-threating, it is always better to be safe than sorry and to get checked out by an eyecare professional before something more serious develops.
Eye Conditions that can Result in Permanent Damage
In a lot of cases, people don’t get the treatment they need to manage an eye problem until irreparable damage has already been done.
Some eye conditions that can lead to irreversible deterioration, are:
- Diabetic Retinopathy
- Macular Degeneration
Floaters are tricky to judge, because they can be harmless isolated occurrences, or they can indicate a more serious issue.
Floaters are little spots or flashes that appear in front of your eyes, and tend to float around your field of vision.
Floaters can be caused be sudden flashes of bright light, and can sometimes be seen after being out in the sun all day with not enough water to drink. In these cases, floaters are not really anything to worry about.
But, if you are seeing floaters on a regular basis and the spots you are seeing are increasing in number and size, then it is good idea to have your eyes examined by a professional.
Glaucoma is a serious eye condition that is cause by excess pressure coming from within the eye, which is known as intraocular pressure. This inner pressure begins to destroy nerve fibres in the retina that are responsible for collecting visual information and processing it.
Glaucoma is a dangerous disease because it can be difficult to detect symptoms until irreparable damage has already been done.
Adults over 40 should get consistent eye inspections to prevent the development of the disease.
Cataracts can also be quite serious, and can leave permanent damage as well if not treated.
Cataracts are a little easier to recognize than glaucoma, as they are characterized by a clouding over of the lens in the eye. This clouding blocks light from reaching the retina, with can result in blurred vision.
Untreated cataracts can cause permanent blindness. Cataracts detected early can be managed, or even removed with surgery.
This eye condition is the result of complications from diabetes. High blood sugar levels, which is a typical side effect of diabetes, can cause damage to the blood vessels responsible for delivering oxygen and nutrients to the retina.
The blood vessels may become blocked or start leaking. Either way, the blood required for the retina to function is not reaching its intended destination.
Seniors with diabetes should get their eyes checked for diabetic retinopathy once a year at the very least.
Macular degeneration is the most prevalent cause of permanent vision loss in people over the age of 60. The disease affects the central area of the retina, called the macula.
The macula contains photoreceptor cells that help detect light, and then send appropriate signals to the brain.
As the macula deteriorates, the eye loses its ability to read, recognize familiar images, and focus on detail.
The damage caused by macular degeneration cannot be reversed, but if the disease is caught early, progression can be slowed and vision can be improved.
Seniors should be getting annual eye exams to prevent the disease.