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The Effect of Aging on Your Eyes

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Senior Eye Exam

How to Maintain and Protect your Eyesight

Our eyes are very prone to the process of aging, as well as common eye diseases that can build over the years. To avoid these problems, it is best to have your eyes checked on a regular basis by an eye care professional, such as an optometrist. Seniors aged over 65 are recommended to have annual eye exams. During this exam, the eye doctor will put drops in your eyes that will dilate (make wider) your pupils so that they can check for any problems at the back of the eye, such as any common eye diseases. Diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure have a large effect on the eyes, and can cause eye problems if not treated, thus should be checked for by the doctor regularly. When you are out in the sunlight, protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses that are capable of blocking UV radiation, as well as a hat with a wide brim.

If you experience any of the follow symptoms, visit your eye doctor immediately:

  • Have pain in your eyes
  • Sudden blurriness or blindness
  • Have double vision
  • See sudden flashes of light
  • Have swelling in your eye, or redness

Some Common Eye Problems

Presbyopia (prez-bee-oh-pee-uh): This is a slow loss of ability to see objects close to you, such as fine print on a newspaper. This is a normal condition as you approach senior years. Reading glasses are usually a good solution for this problem

Floaters: These are tiny “cobwebs” that seemingly float across your vision in well-lit rooms or outdoors on a bright day. This is also a normal part of aging. However, floaters can also signify a more serious eye problem such as retinal detachment. If you constantly see floaters on a daily basis, go see your eye care doctor right away, as it is a medical emergency.

Tearing: This is when you tear up a lot, possibly due to being sensitive to light, wind, or temperature changes, or having dry eyes. Eye drops and wearing sunglasses are helpful if this is the case. However, like floaters, this condition can also be a sign of a more serious problem in your eye, such as an infection or a blocked tear duct. Go consult an eye doctor to treat these problems.

Eyelid Problems: Eyelid problems include red and swollen eyelids, constant itching or crusting of eyelashes during sleep. These problems can result from various diseases or conditions, an example being blepharitis (ble-fa-ri-tis), and can be treated with warm compresses, and gentle eyelid scrubs.

Low Vision

Low vision is a condition that means that your eyesight cannot be fixed with prescriptions (glasses, contact lenses), medicine, or surgery. This is a condition that affects some people when they age. You may have low vision if you:

  • Cannot see well when doing everyday tasks (reading, cooking)
  • Can’t recognize the faces of your loved ones
  • Have troubling reading signs
  • Find that lights aren’t as bright

If any of these problems exist in your life, it is best to consult an eye care doctor or professional. There are special tools out there that can help with low vision, so that you can continue doing daily tasks. Some examples include large print literature, magnifying aids, closed-circuit TV (CCTV), audio recordings, and computers with a talking function or large print.

Some ways that you can do yourself are:

  • Change type of room lighting
  • Write with big bold markers
  • Put colored tape on your stairs to prevent yourself from falling
  • Purchase colored light switches that can be easily identified from across the room
  • Use motion detecting lights that automatically turn on when you walk into a room
  • Make labels in your household large print, such as clocks, telephones, calendars, etc

You can ask your eye doctor for more ways to help with low vision in your daily life, as well as general advice to improve your condition.


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