National Eye Exam Month in August is an important month for older adults. The month is designed to bring awareness to the importance of prioritizing your eye health as you age. Getting regular eye exams will not only give you a vision baseline, but it can help your ophthalmologist detect problems—like disease or damage—and treat them at an early stage. It’s recommended that adults have periodic eye exams about every 2-4 years, but adults over the age of 65 should get an eye exam every 1-2 years. Ideally, older adults should get them annually if possible.
Vision Changes in Seniors
Your vision may change drastically in older adulthood, but with proper vision care—which includes regular eye exams—vision changes don’t have to have a major impact on your life. Your vision can change with no warning and oftentimes eye diseases have no symptoms. That’s why regular check-ups are crucial. Similarly, diseases that affect other parts of the body—such as diabetes—may put you at risk of developing problems with vision (like diabetic retinopathy). Let’s learn a little more about age-related vision changes and eye diseases.
Cataracts affect the lens of the eye. They are cloudy spots that cover the lens and can interfere with vision. Vision may become blurry, colors may dull, and it can be difficult to see in low light conditions. You may be able to treat cataracts with a stronger prescription for a while. As cataracts progress, the only other way to treat them is with surgery.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration, which affects the macula, may lead to central vision loss. It is the macula that helps control how well we see fine details and colors. While peripheral vision and side vision are not affected, loss of central vision can make regular activities like watching television, reading, and driving difficult. There are a variety of rehabilitation and treatment options to adjust to life with macular degeneration or improve symptoms.
Glaucoma is eye damage to the optic nerve. Most often, individuals will see it affect one eye and then the other. Glaucoma initially causes loss of peripheral vision, but left untreated, it can lead to permanent vision loss. Typically, glaucoma doesn’t have any symptoms and individuals don’t notice an issue until they begin losing their peripheral vision. That’s why it’s so important to have regular check-ups to prevent glaucoma from escalating. Glaucoma can be controlled with things like eye drops, medications, and surgical procedures.
Dry eye often happens in older adulthood and becomes a chronic condition. It happens when an individual either doesn’t produce enough tears or the tears are poor in quality. Tears are important in maintaining clear vision. Dry eye is often treated with drops.
Getting a regular eye exam can significantly lower your risks of dealing with further eye damage. An ophthalmologist can help you control your symptoms and prevent further eye vision damage. Schedule your eye exam today to enjoy healthy vision.