German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said, “The hardest thing to see is what is in front of your eyes.” For many seniors, seeing “what is right in front of you” commonly becomes more difficult with age. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, approximately one person in three has some form of vision-reducing eye disease by age 65. The most common causes of vision loss among the elderly are age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataract and diabetic retinopathy.
While it is generally known that eye problems increase rapidly with age—especially after age 65—a lesser-known fact is that vision loss is also associated with a higher frequency of falls, injuries, depression and social isolation. The good news is that there are steps seniors can take to help protect themselves against vision loss—starting with an eye exam.
Keep an Eye on Your Health
Seniors should consider regular eye exams as part of their overall health strategy. Dismissing changes in your vision or skipping routine eye exams can put you at risk for more serious eye-related diseases and may prevent your physician from diagnosing vision problems from their onset. Our eyes can reveal early indications of other health issues such as diabetes and high/low blood pressure.
The Canadian Ophthalmological Society suggests that adults seek vision treatment as soon as possible if experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Loss of vision or decreased vision in one or both eyes.
- Changes in vision such as spots, flashes of light, wavy or watery vision,
- blurriness, distortions in vision, haloes around lights, or double vision.
- Changes in the field of vision such as shadows, curtain-like loss of vision, black spots or blurriness in central or peripheral vision.
- Physical changes to the eye such as crossed eyes, eyes that turn in, out, up or down, pain, or signs of infection such as redness, swelling, or discharge; or changes in colour perception.
- Aside from actual changes in eye health, seniors, as well as family members, should be cognizant of other factors that may suggest vision loss.
These can include:
- Bumping into or knocking over objects
- Stepping hesitantly
- Squinting or tilting the head when trying to focus
- Missing objects when reaching
- Discontinuing everyday activities such as reading and writing.
Simple, routine eye exams are critical in detecting diseases in their early stages, and can help preserve your sight. The earlier a patient seeks medical diagnosis and treatment, the greater the chances for saving and recovering one’s vision, which contributes to overall health and happiness. Italian poet Pietro Aretino said it best, “Why should the eyes be denied what delights them most?” Contact us to learn more about lifelong vision health and treatment.