March is Save Your Vision Month
The American Optometric Association has designated March as “Save Your Vision Month”. They stress the importance of receiving regular comprehensive eye exams from doctors of optometry. This becomes increasingly important as your loved one ages.
Common Eye Diseases that Affect the Elderly
- Macular Degeneration. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in Americans who are 60 years of age or older. This disease destroys the macula, the central part of the retina that is responsible for direct vision. The early stages of macular degeneration offer little symptoms. Eventually, straight lines may appear distorted, vision may become blurry and blind spots may develop. The person may have difficulty seeing when light levels change such as when going from a well-lit room to a dark corridor. Depth perception may be impaired.
- Cataracts. Half of all Americans have cataracts by the time they reach 80. Age brings decreased flexibility and thickening of the lens of the eye. Tissues of the lens begin to clump together resulting in cataracts. Symptoms begin as blurred, dimmed or cloudy vision.
- Diabetic Retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is caused by diabetes. Damage to the blood vessels in the retina causes tissues to swell and results in cloudy and blurred vision. Early stages may have no associated symptoms though it can, ultimately, lead to blindness. Symptoms include seeing floaters—squiggly lines that float across the field of vision, difficulty seeing at night or a dark spot in the center of vision.
- Glaucoma. Glaucoma usually occurs when fluid builds up in the inner eye and damages the optic nerve. There are often no initial symptoms but eventually peripheral vision is affected.
How to Help
- Pay close attention to your parent’s blood sugar levels and make sure they are sticking to their diet, taking any medications as prescribed, and exercising regularly.
- Make sure your parent has yearly visits with their optometrist. Many eye disease associated with aging show no initial symptoms and the only way they are diagnosed is through an eye exam.
Prognosis is much better the earlier the detection.
- Make sure they are eating a well-balanced diet rich in leafy greens, salmon and other fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, nuts, berries, citrus fruits, eggs and avocados.
- Smoking is a risk factor in most eye diseases. If you are smoking, it is time to quit.
- Wear sunglasses when outdoors that protect from the ultraviolet rays of the sun.
- If you work at a computer for any length of time, be sure to take eye breaks every 30 minutes.
Elder Care Provider
Problems with eyesight can lead to the need for assistance with the daily activities of living. If your loved one needs help, consider obtaining the services of an elder care provider who can not only assist with everyday tasks, but provide companionship—that all important component of a balanced and happy life.
If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring senior care in Princeton, NJ or the surrounding areas, please call Independence Home Care today at 609-208-1111 for more information.