Getting older brings with it wisdom, savvy and awareness – in many ways our brains become better with time and experience. However, our bodies, including our eyes, can develop problems. Luckily most eye problems are not serious, particularly when they’re caught early and are appropriately treated before they advance. Armed with the right knowledge, you can take steps to protect your vision into your 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond.
Once people enter their 40s, many experience presbyopia, a normal reduction in close-up vision that is easily addressed with prescription lenses or refractive surgery. In one’s 50s cataracts become common, but most are small enough to require only monitoring. Once people get into their 60s, many age-related eye problems may occur, some of which can be dangerous to your vision if left ignored.
“It is important that people 50 and older have a comprehensive dilated eye exam every two years and that folks 65 and older have one each year,” says Lake Eye ophthalmologist Dr. Mark Vocci. “A full eye exam can catch eye diseases before they produce symptoms and possible permanent vision loss. Nearly all eye diseases can be corrected or arrested once they’re diagnosed.”
During a comprehensive exam, your Lake Eye ophthalmologist will look for the following:
Cataracts – Cataracts can cause blurred vision, sensitivity to glare and other problems. There are many high-tech options that quickly and painlessly remove cataracts and replace damaged lenses with replacement lenses designed to restore vision, sometimes to 20/20.
Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) – Over time, the macula, which sits near the center of the retina, can develop deposits or begin leaking fluid, causing the central vision to blur, warp or become dark. Loss of this pinpoint vision is permanent, so early detection is important in managing AMD.
Glaucoma – High pressure in the eye can damage the optic nerve, impairing peripheral eyesight. For most people, eye drops can relieve this pressure and preserve vision.
Diabetic Eye Disease – This disease has no warning signs and can lead to blindness. Caught early it can be managed, so if you have diabetes you should schedule a comprehensive eye exam with your Lake Eye doctor at least once a year.
Low Vision – Low vision refers to permanently damaged eyesight, and is most often the result of eye disease that went undiagnosed and/or untreated. While low vision cannot be cured, it can be managed and even prevented altogether with regular eye exams.
Dry Eye – While it can occur at any age, chronic dry eye is most common as people get older. Too little natural moisture in the eye can result in stinging, burning, irritation, mucous and/or excess tearing. Your doctor can provide easy treatments to help relieve dry eye and avoid related discomfort and dysfunction.
Your exam will also include a vision test, any needed prescription for lenses, and an assessment of pupils, eyelids and eye muscles, making it an all-inclusive, one-stop evaluation of your overall eye health and vision.
“It is one of your best health investments,” says Lake Eye ophthalmologist Scott Wehrly. “It’s a little time out of your day to help protect your vision for a lifetime.”