Eye Care For Seniors, Treating Glaucoma & Aging Eye Problems
The aging of the eye is prone to more problems as we age, just like the rest of our body. Cataracts, macular degeneration, spots or "floaters", and dry eye are more common as are other conditions with ocular complications, like diabetes and high blood pressure. Therefore, it is highly recommended that all adults over age 60 have annual dilated eye examinations to rule out the potential problems of aging eyes. Those with a diagnosis of eye disease or other conditions, like diabetes, may need more frequent follow-up examinations. Wise lifestyle choices and regular eye exams can significantly improve your chances of maintaining excellent vision throughout your life.
Common eye problems in elder years include:
- Development of cataracts
- Spots and floaters from changes in the eye
- Macular changes resulting in macular degeneration
- Glaucoma (particularly in African Amercan and Hispanic adults)
- Increasingly dry eyes, especially in women
- Retinal disorders
Regular medical eye exams for seniors are important and the frequency of exams may vary depending on medical history and the incidence of existing eye conditions.
In your 60’s and beyond risks increase for common age-related eye diseases and conditions like macular degeneration and cataracts. Our ability to see in low lighting decreases, as does color vision and night driving. Age-related eye changes cause visual disturbances such as spots and floaters. Yearly eye exams are recommended and may need to be more often if eye disease or eye conditions are present.
Common Eye Problems for Seniors:
A cataract is the normal clouding of the lens in the eye as we age and is easily corrected surgically. Cataract surgery is the most common and successful elective surgery in the United States. Cataracts are a normal process of aging but may be caused earlier by smoking, eye injury, diabetes, or some medications.
As we age, the gel-like vitreous inside the eye begins to liquefy and pull away from the retina, causing “spots and floaters
” and (sometimes) flashes of light. This condition, called vitreous detachment
, is usually harmless. But floaters and flashes of light can also signal the beginning of a detached retina
— a serious problem that can cause blindness if not treated immediately. Those who examine spots, floaters or flashes of light should be examined without delay.
Age Related Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a disease associated with aging that gradually destroys sharp, central vision. Central vision is needed for seeing objects clearly and for common daily tasks such as reading and driving.
Risk of developing glaucoma, a gradually progressive eye disease without symptoms increases with each decade after age 40, from around 1 percent in your 40s to up to 12 percent in your 80s. African and Hispanic Americans are particularly affected by Glaucoma.
Diabetic retinopathy is the most common diabetic eye disease and a leading cause of blindness in American adults. It is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina. Caught early it can be successfully treated which is why we recommend annual eye examinations for those with diabetes as soon as diabetes is diagnosed. Once retinopathy develops exams may need to be far more frequent.
Dry eye occurs when the eye does not produce tears properly, or when the tears are not of the correct consistency and evaporate too quickly. This can cause watery, red, irritated eyes that can be very uncomfortable.
If you are over the age of 60, regular eye exams are important. Certainly, if you notice any significant changes in your vision or are experiencing any symptoms, it is critical that you seek the advice of a senior vision care specialist at your local North Carolina Doctors Vision Center eye care location.