Preventing Vision Impairment and Eye Problems in Seniors
Individuals over the age of 60 may develop vision problems that are age-related. Some of these problems are related to changes in the eye that occur with age. Others can be caused by disease conditions. Vision experts recommend regular examinations by your eye doctor as part of regular senior health care. Here are a few common vision problems that seniors often encounter:
A condition called “dry eyes” can occur as early as your 40s, but increasing age is one of the causes of this condition. When the eyes do not produce enough tears, they can cause symptoms of stinging, burning and problems with focusing. Eye drops can help to alleviate the discomfort. Tiny inserts can be placed into the eyes that dissolve slowly to replace the tears. Special contact lenses that protect the eyes can also be used to reduce discomfort.
Clouding of the lens of the eye can also occur with age. Proteins that collect in areas on the eye due to aging is one of the chief causes of cataracts. Smoking, alcohol use and diabetes are other causes. These growing clusters of protein can become so large they interfere with vision. Treatment includes surgery to remove the cataracts to improve vision.
In age-related macular degeneration, the center of the eye becomes damaged, leading to loss of vision in the central field. Genetics, racial group and smoking are risk factors for age-related macular degeneration. Age-related macular degeneration is treated with nutritional supplementation, injections of a protein compound that increases the number of blood vessels in the eye, phototherapy and laser surgery are used to treat this condition.
Diabetic Eye Disorders
Seniors with diabetes must be vigilant about managing their blood sugar levels to prevent diabetes-related eye diseases. High blood glucose levels can cause damage to the blood vessels in the eye, which can damage tissue and lead to impaired vision. Diabetic retinopathy can cause a number of conditions, such as macular degeneration and macular edema. Retinal detachment in which the retina separates from the back of the eye can also occur, leading to blindness. Photocoagulation and surgery to remove scarring and cloudiness in the eye are treatments for these conditions.