At Heritage Eye, Skin & Laser Center, we believe that everyone, regardless of age, deserves to have healthy eyes and clear vision. To this end, we emphasize the importance of high-quality senior eye care. In addition to diagnosing and managing common eye conditions, we are the area’s leading practice for the diagnosis and management of complex eye diseases.
Most Common Eye Conditions for Seniors
The three most common eye conditions that we look for in seniors are:
Cataracts is a very common senior eye condition. We start to notice the beginnings of cataract formation in the late 40s to early 50s. Cataracts gradually progress over the next 20-30 years.
Glaucoma is also very common in seniors and the risk increases as we age. The biggest problem with glaucoma is that it is silent. There are no symptoms with glaucoma, so the individual has no idea they are developing glaucoma or have glaucoma until the damage is already done. The other problem with glaucoma, from a medical perspective, is that the damage is permanent. We can’t repair it so we have to prevent it. With glaucoma, we use a preventative strategy. That means recognizing it early on before the individual know there is a problem.
Macular degeneration is another eye condition we watch for in seniors. The macula is a portion of the retina, and the retina is the back portion of the eye, which is the photo-sensitive equivalent of the film in a camera. If there is damage to the film in the camera, no matter how well you focus the camera or clean the lens, it’s going to take blurry pictures. That’s how macular degeneration affects patients.
Patients who suffer from diabetes face a significantly elevated risk eye problems, making regular ophthalmology appointments an important part of the diabetic’s health care regimen. Diabetic retinopathy is the most significant eye disease facing diabetics. In this condition, elevated blood sugar levels begin to break down blood vessels inside the eye. The vessels leak fluid into the retina, causing vision loss and other complications.
A Proactive Approach to Eye Care for Seniors
Many vision changes that occur with aging do not have to affect your lifestyle. There are things you can do to care for your eyes as you age and potentially prevent or, at least effectively manage any age-related eye conditions that may occur.
Below are some ways to protect your eyes as you age:
1. Regularly Scheduled Comprehensive Medical Eye Exam
Having regularly scheduled eye exams to assess the health of your eyes, is the best way to manage or even prevent damage to your eyes, your vision, and prevent change changes to your lifestyle. Women are at a higher risk for some eye diseases such as glaucoma and cataracts, so having an eye exam every year would be especially important for women.
2. Eat Healthy, Don’t Smoke, and Avoid Excessive Sun Exposure
There are two different types of cells in our eyes that are responsible for a variety of visual activities. Cone cells are responsible for visual acuity and color vision. Rod cells are responsible for focusing, adjusting from light to dark, and distinguishing the difference between an image and its background (called contrast sensitivity). According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, research has shown that rod cells in our eyes are more likely to degrade with age than the cone cells. Even more interesting is that fact that the rod cells have been found to be more dependent on environmental factors such as nutrition, smoking, and excessive sun exposure. Therefore, as research indicates, a healthy lifestyle does have an effect on our eyes and could possibly prolong or prevent some of the changes that typically occur as we age.
3. Avoid Falls and Related Eye Injuries
4. Prevent or Manage Health Conditions
Schedule an Ophthalmology Appointment
Regular eye care appointments are important at any age, but they become more important each year as we grow older and the risk of vision loss increases.