Aging May Cause Deteriorating Vision
I just had an eye exam last week. I initiated the consult due to experiencing some “flashing light” and resultant “floaters” in my vision. After a complete check-up…vision test; eye pressure; probing for any signs of macular degeneration; cataracts, and retina health…I was told all is fine. My experience is common due to aging. There are no issues with my eyesight. It is expected/normal that my “floaters” in left eye will fade away or dissappear soon.
Aging Causes Cataracts
One of the many consequences of aging is deterioration in vision. Almost 70 percent of elderly (75 years and older) have developed cataracts. Both my elderly parents experienced different vision issues as they aged. My father’s eyesight remained relatively consistent for many years. My mother, on the other hand, developed cataracts in both eyes. As one ages, the eye’s lens becomes less flexible, less transparent and thicker. This results in areas of the lens becoming cloudy.
Many seniors are affected by cataracts that, in turn, affect their vision. It can begin to creep in on one’s peripheral vision, substantially minimizing the field of vision. If left untreated, the cataract will become white and block vision. Cataract surgery, where the eye’s natural lens is removed and replaced by an intraocular lens, tends to be very safe with a very high success rate. Yet, there are things that people with cataracts should be aware of.
Risk Factors: Various risk factors increase the chances of cataracts. Certainly, family history and genetics are big factors. Additionally, lifestyle factors are important. Smoking, prolonged or excessive exposure to sunlight, eye injury or inflammation, and long-term use of steroids. Diabetes can greatly effect eyesight. Risks, however, can be reduced. Regardless of your age, wear UV-rated sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat when you’re in the sun for an extended period of time. If you smoke, try to quit. Proper diet and regular exercise can also help.
Manage Your Eye Health: An eye exam should be performed annually. (I will now add this to my list of annual appointments…my physical…my skin check-up…and now, my eye exam.) Let’s face it…it’s painless, informative, and brings some peace of mind. If you are over the age of forty, consider scheduling a “baseline” exam. Signs of eye disease begin to occur in middle age.
Surgery Is An Option: If glare, halos, blank spots, blurriness and dimmed colors are complicating your ability to drive and read, surgery may be the right option for you. However, if your eyesight is not affecting your lifestyle, you may want to wait. Those considering surgery will need to give their doctor a complete medical and eye history, including their use of medication. Certain medications can cause the iris to move out of its normal position, which can lead to complications during surgery. The surgery can still be successful, but the surgeon may need to adjust his or her surgical technique.
When you lose something you’ve had for years, it can be traumatic. Seniors can be increasingly frustrated, and put themselves in potentially dangerous situations when their vision is failing. Simple household chores can get pushed aside. Try reading the prescription bottles with bad eyesight. Or, attempting to drive a car. Home Care Partners provides carestaff for those seniors remaining in their homes. We can help by providing a set of eyes, and ears, to insure the safety of the senior and the home environment.
Many elderly will experience some loss of vision as they age. Maintaining good eye health is very important.
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John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions.
Phone: (781) 378-2164