As you age, your vision changes but these changes don’t have to affect your lifestyle if you become aware of warning signs. It’s critical to become knowledgeable of these signs as they could cause vision loss.
Some eye diseases have no early symptoms and changes may not even be noticed until your vision is significantly impacted. By implementing healthy lifestyle choices and having regular eye exams you can maintain good eye health and vision as you age.
If you have diabetes or hypertension (high blood pressure) you may be at greater risk to develop eye vision issues. The American Optometric Association recommends annual eye exams for everyone over 60.
If you are over 60, you should be aware of possible eye diseases that can change your vision permanently. If you recognize and treat these problems early, the more likely you can avoid vision problems. Here are some vision diseases to be aware of.
Age Related Vision Diseases
Age related macular degeneration (AMD)
This eye disease affects the macula (the retina at the back of the eye) and causes central vision loss. This part of the retina allows you to see fine detail and colors. Central vision is required for activities like reading, driving and watching TV.
The clear lens of your eye may become cloudy or opaque and depending on their size and location can interfere with normal vision. Cataracts can develop in both eyes, but one may be worse more than the other. You may experience blurry vision, decreased contrast sensitivity and/or decreased ability to see under low light conditions.
The progressive damage done to the blood vessels that nourish your retina occur in people with diabetes. The damaged blood vessels can leak blood and other fluids and cause cloud vision usually in both eyes. If left untreated, it can cause blindness.
Dry eye happens when you produce too few or poor-quality tears. Tears are required to maintain the health of the front surface of your eye and provide clear vision.
Glaucoma causes damage to the optic nerve resulting in loss of peripheral vision. Both eyes are usually affected with one eye damaged before the other. If left untreated, glaucoma can lead to total blindness. Glaucoma is often painless and can have no obvious symptoms until there is a significant loss of side vision.
This condition causes tearing or separation of the retina. This detachment usually occurs spontaneously due to changes of the vitreous fluid that fills the back of the eye. If left untreated, it can cause permanent vision loss.
If any of the above eye conditions occur or other age-related vision issues, it may affect your driving abilities. Your color perception, judgement of distances, difficulty seeing car instrument panel or loss of side vision can have an impact on your driving. The following tips can help:
Pay attention at intersections. Be sure to yield when required, especially making left turns. Look in both directions when entering an intersection. If you have decreased peripheral vision, turn your head frequently.
Avoid driving at night if the glare of oncoming headlights bother you or you have trouble seeing at night.
Avoid glasses with wide side arms as they may restrict your side vision.
Driving programs are available for older people to help you learn how to compensate for the physical vision changes.
Annual eye exams are absolutely necessary to ensure your prescription is up to date. These exams can also detect any developing eye health problem.
Low Vision Treatments
The diseases mentioned above are among the eye health conditions that can lead to vision loss in varying degrees and forms.
A rehabilitation program can be developed so you can live an independent life within your limitations. Many rehabilitation options are available and are discussed below:
Spectacle-mounted magnifiers. A magnifying lens is mounted in spectacles or on a special headband. This allows you to use both hands to complete a close-up task.
Handheld or spectacle-mounted telescopes. These help to see at longer distances and can be modified for reading.
Handheld and stand magnifiers. These are convenient for short-term reading tasks, such as viewing price tags, labels and instrument dials.
Video magnification. Table-top (closed-circuit television) or head-mounted systems are able to enlarge reading material on a video display. You can even customize the brightness, size, contrast, foreground/background color and illumination.
Other products include large-type books and magazines, books on tape and talking wristwatches.
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