The Most Common Eye Diseases Among Seniors

While many people expect to reduce their 20/20 vision as they get older and need glasses, they may not expect to develop other eye conditions.  There are numerous conditions that affect the eyes, but four are mainly found in older adults.

Cataracts

Cataracts affect a large number of the older population and are characterized by clouding of the lens.  It can happen in one or both eyes and results in blurry vision.  There are other types of cataracts that can affect anyone, but the most common cause is aging.

The lens of the eye is made of water and protein and as people get older, the proteins can clump together to create a cataract.  When the cataract is small, it may not be noticeable, but as more proteins clump, it can begin to create blurred vision.

Symptoms of a cataract include cloudy vision, faded colors, trouble seeing after dark, glare from lights that may have the appearance of a halo, double vision in one or both eyes, and changes in prescription for glasses.  These can also indicate other eye problems, which is why it is best to get them checked by a professional.

An optometrist can perform tests to determine if you have cataracts.  If they find one, they can prescribe glasses to help your vision.  If the cataracts become serious, they may recommend a surgery to remove the cataract.  Some people with cataracts never require surgery.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a disease that affects the optic nerve and can cause blindness if it is not treated early.  The optometrist can test for increased eye pressure, which can cause glaucoma.  Continual pressure on the optic nerve can eventually cause damage, but not all people with increased pressure will get glaucoma.

There is no cure for glaucoma or the loss of sight from the disease.  Early detection can help prevent it from getting worse by reducing the pressure on the eyes or draining fluid.

Doctors may prescribe medicine or in certain situations, recommend a surgery to help the fluid drain to relieve pressure.

Macular Degeneration

This disease destroys the macula, which is the part of the eye responsible for clear vision.  It provides the details needed to allow the viewer to see objects clearly.  While it does not result in complete blindness, the person would no longer be able to drive, read, or easily recognize people.

This disease is only detected in its early stages through an examination since there are usually no symptoms.  In the later stages, the person may notice blurry vision and that objects and faces are not as clear as they used to be.

There is no cure for macular degeneration, but there are treatments.  However, not everyone responds to the treatments and the disease can continue to progress.  It can develop in one or both eyes.

Diabetic Neuropathy

Another disease that often occurs in seniors is diabetic neuropathy.  Like its name implies, it results from diabetes, which affects the eyesight.  The blood vessels change and may leak fluid or new vessels may form on the retina’s surface.

As with the other diseases, the first signs often occur when the condition has advanced and results in blurry vision.  Anyone that has diabetes should schedule regular appointments with their optometrist to check for diabetic neuropathy.

If detected, treatments can prevent any further damage but cannot undo any loss of sight that has already occurred.  Keeping blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible can help prevent the disease.

Anyone over the age of fifty should schedule exams with their optometrist annually.  If they have a history of eye disease or other factors, they should closely monitor their vision and alert the doctor.  The doctor can then perform special tests to detect the disease while it is in its early stages.

Many people don’t see the need to visit an optometrist as long as they can see well, but with diseases like these four, symptoms are often not present until the disease has advanced.  Early detection can prevent loss of vision and allow the person to maintain quality eyesight.

If you or a loved one has an eye disease that has resulted in a partial or complete loss of vision, you may need some assistance with certain daily tasks.  The staff at Carefect Homecare Services can provide housekeeping and personal care assistance.  If your loved one has recently had a procedure such as cataract surgery, you can use the services at Carefect Homecare Services to have caregivers stay with them overnight or for a period of time after hospitalization.  Our homecare services allow seniors to get home sooner and recover quicker.

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