As seniors’ bodies age, their eyes, too, undergo significant changes. Age can spur weakness in the eyes and vision. Visiting an ophthalmologist every one to two years is important for detecting eye diseases early. Eye conditions that are caught in the early stages can be effectively treated.
1. Cloudy Vision May Signal Cataracts
Developing cataracts is common in older people. In fact, nearly one out of every five adults over the age of 65 has experienced a cataract. This eye condition becomes apparent when darkening and clouding occur over the eye lens, subsequently obstructing vision.
Cataracts typically form gradually. When cataracts grow large and thick and block vision, the affected senior requires surgery to have them removed. A doctor will surgically remove the clouded lens and replace it with a custom intraocular lens, which restores normal sight to a healthy eye.
2. Sudden Eye Pain May Be Glaucoma
Seniors who are at a high risk for glaucoma often have diabetes or a family history of glaucoma. Narrow-angle glaucoma may be the culprit when individuals over age 60 experience sudden eye pain, redness and nausea. An attack of this eye condition can severely damage the eye’s optic nerve.
Those who fall into the high-risk groups for glaucoma should undergo a dilated eye exam every two years. An ophthalmologist will check the retina, measure the eyes’ fluid pressure, measure the thickness of the cornea and examine the optic nerve for any signs of damage.
3. Seeing Floaters May Indicate Retinal Detachment
A separation of the inner and outer layers of the retina signifies retinal detachment. Symptoms that accompany retinal detachment include seeing spots or light flashes, dark shadows in the field of vision and experiencing distorted, underwater-like vision. Surgery corrects retinal detachment and restores vision.
4. Tenderness at the Temples Suggests Temporal Arteritis
Temporal arteritis may be the underlying issue when severe headaches, pain with chewing and tenderness along the temples occur. Bodily symptoms may include scalp tenderness, chronic fever and shoulder or hip weakness. These symptoms may be followed by permanent vision loss.
5. Red, Watery Eyes May Point to Corneal Disease
The cornea serves to focus light as it enters the eye. When the cornea is damaged through disease, infection or toxic substances, the senior experiences a range of symptoms, including a halo effect, reduced vision, watery eyes, redness and pain. Medicated eye drops relieve symptoms of corneal disease.
6. Blind Spots Could Be a Sign of Diabetic Retinopathy
Seniors who live with diabetes may develop a complication known as diabetic retinopathy. Blood vessels begin to leak fluid, leading to blurred vision, seeing floaters or experiencing blind spots. Other symptoms include eye pain, double vision and corneal abrasions. If left untreated, blindness can result.
Managing blood glucose levels significantly reduces the chances of developing diabetic retinopathy. Scheduling a dilated eye exam at least once every year increases the chances of early detection, and, therefore, timely medical intervention. During exams, the eye doctor looks for signs of damage.
7. Vision Loss in Central Field of Vision Points to Macular Degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration destroys parts of the eye’s retina. Dry macular degeneration symptoms include blurry distance or reading vision, requiring brighter lights to see nearby objects, difficulty recognizing people’s faces and seeing blurry spots in one’s central field of vision.
Symptoms of wet macular degeneration include loss of central vision, experiencing distorted vision (such as seeing bent instead of straight lines), seeing dark spots in one’s field of vision and seeing objects that appear either larger or smaller when viewed with one eye as opposed to the other.
8. Seeing Double Signals Diplopia
Double vision is also known as diplopia and manifests as seeing double images of a single object. Monocular diplopia affects only one eye and may be caused by cataracts or retinal problems. Binocular diplopia affects both eyes, and may result from diabetes, Graves’ disease or eye muscle trauma.
9. Distorted Central Vision May Be Indicative of a Macular Hole
A tiny break in the macula (located in the retina) is indicative of a macular hole. When a macular hole appears, blurriness and distorted central vision result. Macular holes develop as a result of aging, making people over age 60 susceptible to the condition.
Macular holes are different from macular degeneration, although both display similar symptoms. When a macular hole develops in one eye, the second eye has a 10 to 15 percent chance of forming a macular hole within one’s lifetime. A vitrectomy (surgery procedure) can seal a macular hole.
10. Irritated, Red Eyes May Be a Sign of Dry Eye Syndrome
Rather than being a sight-threatening disease, dry eye syndrome is a harmless nuisance. Older people’s tear glands produce fewer tears; or, the chemistry of their tears shift, resulting in tears of poorer quality. Ease itching and burning eyes by running a humidifier or applying tear-simulating eye drops.
When an elderly loved one displays signs of eye problems, it is important to visit an eye professional immediately for diagnosis and treatment recommendations. When family members are unavailable, professional caregivers from Assisting Hands Home Care will provide reliable transportation to eye specialist appointments.
Assisting Hands Home Care professionals are dedicated to helping the elderly improve their daily lives. Our senior care providers remind seniors to take their prescribed eye medications on schedule. Our caregivers also work to ensure the home environment is safe, especially for seniors with poor vision.
Living with a serious eye condition can hamper a senior’s ability to remain independent. Assisting Hands Home care providers are trained to provide the right amount of compassionate support, so that our elder care recipients still have every opportunity to experience independence and dignity each day.
Assisting Hands Home Care is dedicated to serving the needs of families and their aging loved ones living in the surrounding communities of Pewaukee, Brookfield and Elm Grove, Wi. Consult our home care agency for the most comprehensive, non-medical senior care services in the area.