Aging can affect your eyes, meaning it’s normal to experience changes in your vision as you get older. Often, older adults find it difficult to see things up close and distinguish some colors. Age is also a risk factor for some diseases. Regular visits to your local eye clinic go a long way in keeping your eyes healthy and detecting early signs of vision-threatening conditions.
Keep reading to discover the importance of senior eye care.
What Happens to Your Eyes As You Age?
Trouble Seeing in Dim Environments
Rod cells help your eyes adjust to dark environments. Research suggests that these cells tend to get weaker as you age. This is why it is harder for older adults to drive at night or when it is raining.
Your eyes need sufficient quality tears to stay lubricated and nourished. Dry eye is a common eye condition that occurs due to insufficient tear production. It causes you to feel like something is in your eye. Blurred vision, light sensitivity and eye redness are usually symptoms of dry eye. Women who have gone through menopause are more likely to develop this eye condition.
Difficulty Reading Fine Print
Presbyopia is a normal part of aging. It usually happens in people who are 40 and older. This common eye problem affects your ability to see nearby objects. You know you have it if you need to hold reading materials at arm’s length to see the text clearly. Your eye doctor could spot signs of presbyopia during your contact eye exam. It can be corrected with prescription glasses or contact lenses.
Loss of Contrast Sensitivity
Older adults may need more light to see clearly and better contrast between objects and their backgrounds. It is due to the reduction of the light that reaches the back of the retina. If you’ve been experiencing issues distinguishing items in similar colors, it will help to use opposite or contrasting colors around your living space.
Increased Sensitivity to Glare
Some eye conditions can increase your sensitivity to glare. You can maintain comfort by adjusting lighting around your home. When going outdoors during the day, wear UV-blocking sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat.
Why Senior Eye Care Matters
Early Diagnosis of Eye Diseases
Cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy are some of the most common eye conditions that affect older adults. Unfortunately, they do not show early symptoms. Many patients are not even aware they have them until they notice significant changes in their vision. It is among the many reasons you should see an eye specialist regularly.
How often you need to see your eye doctor depends on various factors, including age and pre-existing eye and health conditions. If you are at risk of some eye or health problems, you might need to have your eyes checked more frequently. Moreover, experts recommend individuals 65 and older schedule a comprehensive eye exam once a year.
Maintaining Quality of Life
Various studies show that vision impairment is typically associated with poor quality of life. Eye problems can disrupt your daily activities, from cooking and showering to reading and driving. They can also make doing hobbies and socializing challenging, resulting in feelings of dissatisfaction.
By preserving your vision, you can safely navigate indoor and outdoor environments. Refractive errors and vision loss can increase the risk of falls and serious injuries. Senior eye care helps older adults continue living safely and independently.
Early Detection of Other Health Issues
Eye and vision problems are not the only things specialists can detect during comprehensive eye exams. Your eye doctor can also find signs of serious health issues while assessing your eyes. Among them are thyroid disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and brain tumors.
How Can Older Adults Adapt to Vision Changes?
Illuminate Your Living Space
Adequate lighting is vital to the safety of your home. Improving your living space’s illumination will allow you to do tasks comfortably. If necessary, keep lights on during the day to achieve even lighting. You can use direct task lighting when doing crafts, cooking or reading. Moreover, using nightlights in hallways, bathrooms and bedrooms can lower the risk of falls and trips.
Individuals with age-related vision impairments will benefit from having contrasting colors in their living spaces. For instance, it will be easier to walk around a room with floors and walls that contrast. Light-colored tables and countertops will let older adults see dark-colored objects, especially smaller ones, better. You can also place colored tape on the edge of your stairs to help you see them.
Another thing you can do to enhance the safety of your home is to get rid of clutter. Keep the floors free of any object to save yourself from tripping. Make sure cabinets and drawers are closed when not in use. Organize similar things in bins or containers to make it easier to find items you need.
Do you love to read? If so, look for books with larger print or use a magnifying glass. Today, smartphones and tablets let you enlarge icons and texts to help you read small print.
Schedule Regular Eye Exams
Regular eye exams are essential to staying on track of your vision and eye health. Routinely seeing your eye doctor is crucial to detecting eye diseases in their initial stages. Early intervention can prevent irreversible vision loss. During your appointment, expect specialists to perform a dilated eye assessment and slit lamp test. They will also check your eye pressure, visual field and refraction. If your eye prescription has changed, they will recommend updating your eyewear.