As we grow older, more and more emphasis is placed on our eyes in helping us to remain active, independent and productive.
Preventative eye care, including regular vision examinations, may enable you to improve or maintain your ability to see well and en joy life.
What are some of the common vision problems brought on by aging?
Some common problems include the need for assistance (eyeglasses) for close tasks and reading and an increased sensitivity to glare (such as oncoming headlights). Also eye focusing problems are much more prevalent as we grow older. Presbyopia a decline in the eye's focusing ability, is a common. condition associated with aging and causes nearly all of us to need bifocals or reading glasses by the age of 40 or 50. In fact, it is estimated that 94% of persons aged 65 and older require corrective lenses or other vision aids.
Other age-related vision conditions include cataracts, which are a clouding of the lens in your eye. Symptoms of cataracts may include blurred vision or distorted vision. In the early stages, cataracts can be managed with regular vision examinations by your eye doctor. More advanced staged cataracts can be effectively and safely treated through surgery. see section on Cataracts for more detail.
Glaucoma is a disease in which optic nerve damage occurs due to elevated fluid pressure within the eye. This damage can cause severe vision loss if untreated. Glaucoma can be treated with medications and in some cases, by surgery. However, any vision loss is permanent as nerve damage is irreversible. Since the majority of glaucoma patients do not have symptoms, regular eye examinations are important in detecting the condition in its early stages. See section on Glaucoma for more detail.
Floaters are semi-transparent or cloudy specks which drift into view and become noticeable. The can exist in a variety of shapes and sizes and are not, generally, a cause for concern. However, if they appear suddenly consult your eye doctor as they can be a sign of a more serious condition. See section on Floaters for more detail.
Age Related Macular Degenerationis a progressive disease associated with aging that affects a section in the retina of the eye called the macula. See section on Macular Degeneration for more detail.
What can I do?
The age-old combination of a healthy life style and early detection of problems is the best prevention against any loss of vision. If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above see your eye doctor as quickly as possible. Early detection through regular eye examinations by your eye doctor will help prevent natural age-related vision problems from becoming major visual handicaps. Other tips which can make life easier, safer and more enjoyable as we age include: avoiding tinted eyeglasses and tinted windshields when driving at night; keeping eyeglasses, car mirrors and windows clean at all times; turning up the lights at home (especially for close tasks); and carrying a flashlight when out at night to increase lighting when walking.