Vision disorders can affect anyone, but the risk of developing certain eye problems increases with age. Below are some common vision problems experienced by seniors:
Dry Eyes and Tearing
Regardless of age, “low-quality tears” are always present in healthy eyes. However, as people get older, tear glands sometimes fail to make enough low-quality tears, which can lead to symptoms such as redness, burning and itching. If dry eyes become a chronic condition, vision problems may eventually occur. For this reason, it is always in one’s best interest to consult with an eye doctor if constant dryness is a problem.
Tearing is also not uncommon, particularly in seniors who are sensitive to temperature changes, wind or light. Wearing sunglasses and shielding eyes from wind may clear up the problem. If it continues, however, the advice of an eye doctor should be sought.
Floaters are common in people of all ages, particularly nearsighted individuals. They may also become more noticeable as a person ages. They are typically harmless; however, if the number suddenly increases or they are accompanied by flashes of light, one should immediately consult an ophthalmologist.
Presbyopia is simply a term for the inability to clearly read small print or see close objects. Most people over 40 develop some degree of presbyopia, which is easily remedied with suitable corrective lenses.
Cataracts are cloudy areas that cover part or all of the eye’s lens, making it difficult to see. They typically form slowly after age 50 and do not cause pain. Some remain small and don’t interfere with vision, while others grow large and eventually cause blindness if left untreated. Problematic cataracts are easily removed through a surgical procedure.
Glaucoma is a disorder caused by too much pressure inside of the eye. If it isn’t caught early, blindness may occur. Regular checkups are the only way to discover if glaucoma is present and treatments range from oral medications and eye drops to surgical procedures.
Retinal disorders affect the eye’s posterior lining, and interfere with the transfer of images from the eye to the brain. Retinal disorders include detached retina, diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration. Early diagnosis and proper treatment usually prevent blindness.
Although most eye symptoms are not a sign of something serious, regular eye checkups are important. This is because annual screenings uncover potential problems while early treatment is still possible.