As you age, you may notice some changes in your vision. Many occur from the natural aging of the eye and can be improved with extra light or prescription glasses. Sometimes, vision changes are not a normal part of aging and are the beginning stages of eye disease. These are the ones seniors need to be mindful of.
Normal Age-Related Changes
- Your eyes produce fewer tears as you age, which can cause them to feel dry or irritated.
- You may find you need more light to read and perform other tasks.
- Over time, the lenses in your eyes become less flexible. This can make it more challenging to focus on objects that are closer to you.
- Changes in the lenses of your eyes can also cause the light entering your eye to scatter, which can make glares appear more frequently.
- Over time, the lenses in your eyes may also become discolored. This discoloration can make it more challenging to distinguish between different colors.
Common Age-Related Eye Diseases
- Age-related macular degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness among older adults. This disease gradually destroys the macula, which is the part of the eye responsible for focusing central vision.
Glaucoma refers to a group of eye diseases that cause fluid and pressure to build up behind the eye. If left untreated, glaucoma can cause permanent damage to the optic nerve.
Most Americans develop cataracts by the time they turn 80. Cataracts occur when the lenses of the eyes become cloudy. The only way to treat them is by cataract surgery. There is not much you can do to prevent cataracts from developing, but using updated eyewear prescriptions can delay surgery.
- Dry eye
Dry eye occurs when the eyes do not produce enough tears. If left untreated, dry eyes can lead to complications like ulcers and corneal scarring. These can cause some loss of vision. Dry eye can be improved by keeping the eye lubricated with products like artificial tears and prescription eye drops.
The Importance of Regular Eye Exams
Getting regular eye exams is the best way to protect your vision. It gives doctors a chance to catch the disease early, and treatments can significantly slow its progression.
During an eye exam, doctors can also uncover other health conditions. Hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, and carotid artery blockages are a few diseases that can be identified in an eye exam. By catching these early, seniors have a better chance of reducing their risk of suffering from more complicated health problems down the road.
The American Optometric Association recommends that adults 60 years and older get an annual eye exam. Medicare Part B covers eye exams if you have diabetes. It may also cover tests related to particular treatments. To learn more about which eye exams and screenings your Medicare benefit will cover, visit Your Medicare Coverage.
Staying Healthy at Heritage
Heritage Senior Communities offers a variety of senior living options throughout Michigan. From assisted living to respite care and specialized dementia care, we have an option that will meet your unique needs. Contact us today to learn more about our communities.