Understanding what’s normal for aging eyes

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 8, 2020

Some changes vision are normal as people get older; however, vision loss and blindness are not part of aging. According to the National Eye Health Education Program (NEHEP), the most common natural aging eye problems include difficulty seeing objects clearly, trouble distinguishing colors or shapes and the need for more light to see. Glasses, corrective lenses or improved lighting usually remedy these issues. But, long-term healthcare providers can help residents understand the difference between normal vision changes and indications of a more serious problem.

Common conditions
The most common eye diseases or conditions for older Americans are age-related macular degeneration, cataract, diabetic retinopathy, dry eye, glaucoma and low vision. As people age, the risk for developing these conditions increases. The NEHEP has reported that the number of Americans living with age-related eye diseases will double by 2050. To preserve their vision, it is important that older people have information about the following common conditions.
  • Age- Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is the gradual loss of sharp, central vision. According to the National Eye Institute, AMD is the leading cause of vision loss for people age 60 and older. The main early system is blurred vision.
  • A Cataract is the clouding of the lens of the eye and can affect one or both eyes. Symptoms can include blurry vision, colors appearing faded, sensitivity to light, double vision, and decreased ability to see at night.
  • Diabetic Retinopathy is a diabetes complication caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina. It causes mild vision problems, but can lead to blindness. There are no initial symptoms in the early stages. However latter stage symptoms include seeing spots in vision, blurred vision, and dark areas of vision.
  • Dry Eye happens when the amount and/or quality of the eye’s moisture does not provide enough lubrication. Symptoms include scratchy eyes, a stinging or burning sensation, excessive tearing and discharge.
  • Glaucoma is caused by the fluid pressure of the eye rising slowly and damaging the optic nerve. It can occur in one or both eyes and has no initial symptoms in the early stages. However, if left untreated, it can cause the loss of peripheral and central vision.
  • Low Vision is most common for people age 65 and older and can be caused by a number of eye diseases and health conditions. It is the inability to see adequately despite glasses, corrective lenses, medication or surgical procedures. Symptoms include difficulty recognizing faces, reading, matching colors and dim vision.
What can help?

The most important part of maintaining vision health for people over 50 is to have a dilated eye exam every year. A dilated exam helps eye care professionals to see inside the eye to check on the condition of critical tissues that aid vision such as the macula and retina. Most eye diseases that impact older people have few or no early warning signs, but an annual dilated eye exam can help detect eye diseases or problems before they can cause vision loss or blindness.

To learn more about eye-related issues such as policies for the care of eyeglasses, administration of eye drops or ointments and information about eye diseases, go to www.TheComplianceStore.com.