Vision Problems in Older Adults: Signs to Watch For
As we get older, our risk for developing age-related vision problems increases. You may already have noticed some changes to your vision. Once we hit our 40s, we tend to have more problems seeing small print or distinguishing between different colors. Even people who have always had good vision may find that they need reading glasses to peruse the newspaper.
Signs of Vision Problems
All of these changes are normal and not necessarily cause for concern. However, some vision changes may be signs of serious problems – and should be addressed right away. What symptoms should you look out for? Here are five signs that may require immediate intervention:
- Seeing double: If you’re suddenly seeing two of something or catching glimpses of things that aren’t there, this may be a sign of a vision problem or something more serious, like a stroke. See a doctor immediately.
- Pain or redness: These can be symptoms of a vision problem. If they are accompanied by nausea or vomiting, see a doctor immediately. This may indicate that you have narrow-angle glaucoma, which can cause permanent damage if it’s not treated immediately.
- Seeing darkness, like a curtain falling over your eyes: This could also signal a serious vision problem, and should be addressed immediately.
- Sudden blurry vision: If your vision is suddenly blurry in one eye, you may have a macular hole. See a doctor as soon as possible to avoid immediate damage.
- Other sudden changes: If you experience any other sudden changes to your vision, talk to a doctor as soon as possible to determine whether you should get treatment.
Other symptoms that you should mention to your doctor include:
- Cloudy vision or halos around light sources
- Loss of peripheral vision or development of tunnel vision
- Irritation, pain or redness
- Unusual sensitivity to lights
- Impaired night vision
- Blind spots
- Any perceived loss of vision or change to your vision
Common Vision Problems
What might be the cause of these symptoms? Although there are a number of eye diseases that can contribute to these problems, some are more prevalent than others. Some of the most common vision problems among older adults include:
- Cataracts. These can lead to cloudy, blurry, or muted vision. Cataracts can often be treated with surgery that removes the damaged part of the eye and replaces it with an artificial lens.
- Macular degeneration. This disease affects your central vision and makes it harder for you to do daily tasks. Treatment may include taking certain vitamins and minerals or, in some cases, surgery.
- Glaucoma. This occurs when high pressure in your optic nerve leads to damage and vision loss. Usually, the only sign of glaucoma is vision loss. It’s important to see your doctor right away to find ways you can prevent further damage.
- Diabetes-related vision impairment. If you have diabetes, you are at increased risk for developing disease-related complications like retinopathy, which is when the blood vessels in your eyes are damaged.
Eye Disease Prevention
As scary as the idea of vision problems may be, there are ways you can reduce your risk of age-related eye disease. One of the most important steps is to visit your doctor regularly and follow all of her advice. Whether she recommends a vitamin regimen or a visit to an eye specialist, make sure you follow through.
You can also help prevent vision problems by making small lifestyle changes. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to get vitamins that will strengthen your eyes. Wear sunglasses and a hat when you go out in sunny weather, as this can prevent common problems like cataracts. Even getting enough sleep can help your eyes stay healthy and lubricated, allowing them to more easily clear out smoke, allergens, and other irritants that can cause vision problems.
Unfortunately, in some cases, age-related eye disease may lead to a need for additional help with your daily activities. If this is the case, you may need long-term care to help you continue living your life to the fullest. Our experts are on hand to help you understand how you can prepare for your future long-term care needs. Contact us today with your questions about how you can afford long term care!