People with vision loss have higher risk of falls and serious hip fractures.
At age 65 and older, you should have a comprehensive eye exam at least once a year. That’s because adults aged 65 or older are at a higher risk for developing a number of eye conditions and diseases that can impair your sight.
Many of the conditions that cause vision loss do not have symptoms. Eye problems can best be detected with an eye exam.
What are common eye problems among seniors?
- Presbyopia: A natural effect of aging in which the ability to focus on close objects decreases over time. Presbyopia can cause headaches, blurred vision, the need for more light while reading and sore eyes.
- Cataracts: Distorted or cloudy vision caused by the lens inside the eye losing its transparency over time. Cataracts can require changes to your glasses or surgical removal.
- Diabetic retinopathy: A weakening or swelling of the tiny blood vessels in the retina of your eye, and the growth of new blood vessels resulting in blood leakage and other changes. Most vision loss from diabetic retinopathy can be avoided by early detection and treatment.
- Macular degeneration: A disease that results in degenerative changes to your central vision and is a leading cause of vision loss among seniors.
- Glaucoma: A silent thief that often has no symptoms until major damage has occurred. Glaucoma may be caused by elevated pressure within the eye and can lead to serious vision loss if not detected or treated early. commonly referred to as a “silent thief of sight” that often has no symptoms until significant damage has occurred.
Where can I get my eyes checked?
Make sure to get your eyes checked at least once a year. Speak to your family doctor or eye doctor if you notice even gradual vision changes.
Visit the BC Doctors of Optometry website to find a Doctor of Optometry near you or see a full list of doctors.
What steps can I take to protect my vision?
- Get your eyes checked regularly.
- If you suffer from dry eyes (gritty, itchy, or burning), a home humidifier and eye drops may help. In a few serious cases, surgery may be needed to correct the problem.
- If your eyes water, it may be that you are more sensitive to light, wind, or temperature change. Simply shielding your eyes or wearing sunglasses may solve the problem. However, this condition may be the result of an eye infection, eye irritation, or a blocked tear duct, all of which can be treated. See your doctor to find out the exact cause and treatment.
- Turn on the lights. Seeing better can sometimes be as easy as changing a light bulb to one with a higher wattage. Putting 100 or 150 watt bulbs in your lamps can reduce eye strain. Just make sure the fixture is designed for that wattage. Bright light is important in stairways to help prevent falls.
- Don't smoke. Smoking tobacco is a major risk factor in the early onset of age-related macular degeneration.
- Reduce glare as much as possible by using good lampshades, glare shields on computer monitors, and sunglasses. Sunglasses should provide 99 to 100 per cent UV-A and UV-B protection. UV rays can harm your eyes even on a cloudy day.
- Protect your eyes from accidents in your home.
- Put a grease shield over frying foods.
- Make sure spray cans and nozzles are pointed away from you when spraying.
- Wear safety glasses in the workshop and when using chemical products such as ammonia.
- Be careful of a recoil when using bungee cords.
- Eat your carrots. A daily dose of the vitamins and minerals found in melons, citrus fruit, carrots, spinach, and kale may help slow the progress of age-related eye diseases such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataracts.
- Don't drive at night if you have problems with depth perception, glare, or other vision difficulties.
The following resources provide more information on eye care for seniors: