What’s Not a Normal Part of Aging
As you get older, it is very important to have regular eye examinations. Some eye changes are age-related while others may signal something more serious, such as an eye disease that requires medical treatment. You may not experience any eye symptoms, that’s why regular checkups are a must. Many eye diseases do not exhibit symptoms, and the onset may be gradual. While eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and retinal detachment are often painless, they can greatly impair vision if not promptly treated. If you have an eye condition that is due to disease, keep in mind there are probably many effective medical treatments. The key is getting diagnosed as early as possible to learn about the treatments available to you.
Early warning signs
This is also the time in life when your risk for developing a number of eye and vision problems increases. If you experience any of the following symptoms, you may have the early warning signs of a serious eye health problem:
Fluctuating Vision – If you experience frequent changes in how clearly you can see, it may be a sign of diabetes or hypertension (high blood pressure). These chronic conditions can damage the tiny blood vessels in the retina, the light sensitive layer at the back of the eye, causing vision loss that can sometimes be permanent.
Seeing Floaters and Flashes – Occasionally, you may see spots or floaters in your eyes. In most cases, these are actually shadowy images of particles floating in the fluid that fills the inside of the eye. Although they can be bothersome, spots and floaters are usually harmless and typically do not risk vision. They are a natural part of the eye’s aging process. But if you suddenly see more floaters than normal, and they are accompanied by bright, flashing lights, they may be a warning sign of impending retinal detachment—a tear of the retina. This should be treated immediately to prevent serious loss of vision.
Loss of Peripheral Vision – If it seems that you are losing peripheral or side vision, this may be a sign of glaucoma. Glaucoma occurs when the optic nerve is damaged and no longer transmits all visual images to the brain. It often has no symptoms until damage to sections of your vision has begun.
Seeing Distorted Images – If straight lines appear distorted or wavy, or there appears to be a blind spot or empty area in the center of your vision, you may have the signs of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The disease affects the macula, the part of your retina that is responsible for central vision where the eye’s acuity is sharpest. The disease causes a blind spot that’s right in the middle of your field of vision. Regular eye examinations and early diagnosis and treatment of eye diseases can help you continue to preserve good vision throughout life.
Aging – Causes a decrease in visual function even in the healthiest of eyes. Your health care professional can help you minimize the effects of these problems. However, the aging eye also becomes more prone to diseases that can threaten the sight in your eyes, and without intervention by a health care professional and if left untreated, can lead to blindness. The most common causes of vision loss in the over-50’s age group result from conditions such as age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy, as well as other less common problems related to general health issues such as blood pressure and cholesterol. Routine examination and intervention by your health care professional is recommended.