Eye Health Tips for Elderly

With age your vision changes. Once you are in your 60s, you will notice changes in your vision that might even affect your day-to-day works. While this is normal but, the risk rate continues to increase with age, especially, if you have certain health conditions or eye conditions. However, when you know what to expect from your eyes as you age and when to seek help from eye experts, you can protect your vision for longer.

How your vision changes with Age?

Your vision starts to change as you get into your mid-40s. You may start to have problems seeing objects at close distances clearly. This is especially when you are reading something or working on the computer. This is the most common problem that adults develop as you get older. This is normal. It happens because your eye’s focusing ability is affected. This condition is known as presbyopia and it continues to progress with time.

You will notice that

  • Your eyes now take longer to focus and adjust or cannot adjust very well if you get into a poorly-lit area from a well-lit area or vice versa.
  • This problem in adjusting to dark and light is problematic if you drive. This becomes difficult if you have any eye condition that affects your peripheral vision or increase your sensitivity to light or glare. So, it’s better to avoid driving as you get older.
  • It has become tough for you to distinguish images from their background even if there are subtle gradations of tone. This condition is known as loss of “contrast sensitivity.”
  • You need more light to see clearly. You may notice that close-up tasks such as working on a laptop and reading are easier in areas with bright light. Also, you may see that printed materials appear less clear now. This happens because the lens of your eye loses its flexibility with time.
  • There are changes in your colour perception and it has become difficult for you to distinguish between different shades of colour. Even, the clear lens located inside your eye may start to discolour.
  • Your tear production has diminished. With age, the tear glands present in your eyes produce fewer tears. Women who are undergoing hormone changes with age (particularly post-menopausal women) are more likely to experience this. As a result, your eyes may feel irritated and dry. An adequate amount of tears is important for keeping your eyes healthy and for maintaining a clear vision.

As you age, you may initially see that holding reading materials at a distance is helping you in seeing them clearly. Or removing your glasses is helping you in seeing better up close. If you are using contact lenses or prescription glasses for near or distant vision, then these changes in your near vision can be easily corrected by using multifocal or bifocal lenses. Fortunately, if you have presbyopia, you have multiple options for improving your vision.

Source: https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/good-vision-throughout-life/adult-vision-19-to-40-years-of-age/adult-vision-41-to-60-years-of-age

The “rod” cells in the eye that tend to degrade with age compared to the “cone” cells that help in visual acuity and colour vision. A number of environmental factors such a nutrition, excessive exposure to sun, and smoking affect the health and function of the rod cells.

Source: https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/seniors-vision-develop

Common Eye Problems that comes with Age

With age, you become vulnerable to a number of eye conditions. This includes:

1. Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

In this condition, the central part of the tissue lining the retina, known as Macula, gets damaged. The Macula helps in your central vision and as a result, tasks such as reading fine print become difficult. However, this doesn’t affect the peripheral or side vision. AMD is of two types.
The Dry type of AMD affects the majority of people. This condition is marked by a subtle and gradual loss of vision as the cells in the retina break down. For instance, straight lines may appear wavy to you or you may see just parts of letters. The dry type of AMD often advances into the wet type of AMD.

Symptoms of the Dry type of AMD include:

  • Hazy vision
  • You may need extra light or having vision issues when switching from bright to low light
  • You may have difficulty in reading or recognizing people’s faces
  • Colours will appear less vivid

The wet type of AMD is much severe and causes sudden loss of central vision. This happens as blood starts leaking from the blood vessels growing in or under your retina. As a result, you may see large dark spots in the centre of your vision field. If you see blind spots, then immediately consult an eye specialist.
Symptoms of wet type of AMD also include:

  • Distorted vision
  • The Same object appears different size for each eye
  • Colours become less vivid or you see same colour differently in each eye

You are more likely to develop AMD if you smoke or if you are obese or have a family history of AMD. Other risk factors include lack of essential nutrients, excessive exposure to ultraviolet rays.
There is no cure for AMD; however, there are ways to slow its progression, especially the wet macular degeneration. These are:

  • Anti-VEGF treatment that helps in limiting the growth of new blood vessels in your eyes.
  • Thermal laser treatment. This uses heat for slowing down the progression of the disease.
  • Photodynamic therapy. This is used for destroying the leaking blood vessels in the eye.

2. Glaucoma

This is a group of eye diseases resulting in vision loss. The increased pressure in your eye or poor circulation damages the optic nerve. The optic nerve carries images from the eye to the brain, helping in your vision.

Glaucoma develops slowly and usually doesn’t have any clear early symptom. You may not realise that you have it until you start losing your vision. Glaucoma can cause blindness. Age is one risk factor of Glaucoma. Other risk factors include:

  • a family history of glaucoma
  • If you have Hispanic or African ancestry
  • If you are high degree myopic or hyperopic
  • Past history of eye injury
  • Low blood pressure or high eye pressure
  • Diabetes

The doctor may suggest laser treatment, surgery or medications for treating Glaucoma.

3. Cataracts.

This is a condition where the lens of your eyes become cloudy and your vision becomes blurry. Cataract is a common problem that comes with ageing.

Symptoms often develop slowly and usually include:

  • Dim, cloudy and hazy vision. You may feel like looking through an extremely dirty windshield
  • Double vision in one eye
  • Problem in night vision or in low light
  • Seeing halos around lights
  • Light sensitivity
  • Colours appear faded. You may have trouble telling the difference between blues and greens
  • Difficulty in seeing an object with the same colour background.

Factors that increase your risk for developing cataract are:

  • Family history of cataracts
  • Excessive exposure to sunlight
  • High cholesterol
  • high blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Previous eye injury or surgery

During initial stages, changing the contact lenses and eyeglasses prescription might help. Using a magnifying glass and brighter lights for reading or other close-up works may also help. If glare or halo is causing a problem then avoid driving at night. However, glare can be an issue during daytime as well. Ensure that your prescription is up-to-date. Use special tints to lessen glare. If cataract interferes with your day-to-day activities then consult an ophthalmologist who specialises in cataract surgery for removing the cloudy lens and replacing it with clear lens implants.

Other Retinal Diseases

1. Diabetic retinopathy is a complication when there’s an abnormal growth of blood vessels in the retina that leaks fluid or bleeds. You may experience blurred vision and have trouble reading.

Laser treatment can stop the leakage in early stages of the disease, thus, helping in preventing serious complications.

2. Retinal vessel occlusion is a complication that occurs with diabetes or glaucoma. It is a condition when a vein in the retina is blocked. You are at greater risk of developing this condition if you have high blood pressure or due to narrowing of the arteries.

Depending on the type of blockage you experience moderate levels of vision loss that comes and goes. You may even have sudden and severe vision loss accompanied by pain that may require immediate attention.

Source: https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/age-related-vision#2-3

Eye Health Issues: Warning Signs

The 60s is also the time when you are at greater risk of developing sight-threatening conditions. All the eye troubles come with definite symptoms and early signs. Visit an eye specialist immediately if you experience the following symptoms:

  • Fluctuating vision: Frequent changes in your visual clarity can be a sign of high blood pressure or diabetes. These are chronic conditions that damage the blood vessels in the retina. Sometimes this vision loss is permanent.
  • Seeing floaters and light flashes: You may also see spots or floaters in your vision field. In most cases, these floaters or shadowy images are nothing but of the particles floating in the liquid that covers the inside of the eye. They are bothersome at times but spots and floaters don’t harm your vision. They are a part of the eye’s natural ageing process. However, if you see that there is a sudden surge in the number of floaters then it’s a sign that there might be a tear in your retina and that it might have detached. This is a condition that deserves immediate medical attention for preventing serious vision loss.
  • Loss of peripheral vision: If you lose your peripheral or side vision, then it’s a sign that you might have Glaucoma. The most common form of Glaucoma doesn’t have any symptom unless your vision is affected.
  • Images becoming distorted: If images appear distorted, such as a straight line appears wavy or if you see an empty area in your central vision, it’s a sign of AMD. It affects the macula, the central part of the retina responsible for your central vision.

Source: https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/good-vision-throughout-life/adult-vision-19-to-40-years-of-age/adult-vision-41-to-60-years-of-age

  • Keep your Eyes Healthy

There are several things that you can do to keep your eyes as healthy as possible in your 60s:

  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet: This is essential for your eyes. Not eating eye-healthy nutrients is often one of the major causes of many eye conditions. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and fill your plate with different colours. It doesn’t only benefit your overall health but also shields you against eye conditions such as AMD and Cataract.
  • Wear sunglasses when out in the sun: The harmful UV rays can damage your eyes and increase your risk of developing cataracts. Whenever going out in the sun, wear sunglasses or contact lenses that have a UV filter.
  • Quit smoking: because it increases your risk of developing conditions such as AMD and cataracts.
  • Maintain a healthy weight: If you are overweight, it increases your risk of diabetes, which may cause vision loss.
  • Increase the lighting: When you are in your 60s, your eyes need three times more light to see clearly than they did in your 20s. Poor lighting conditions can strain your eyes. So, improve the daylight in your home. Ensure your home has good electric lighting. Use direct light for reading and any kind of close-up work. Make sure that it doesn’t cause glare.
  • Exercise: because it improves the flow of oxygen and blood circulation to every part of your body including your eyes. This is important for maintaining a good eye health.
  • Get enough Sleep: It’s because when you sleep your eyes are continuously lubricated, thus helping in clearing dust and irritants that may have accumulated throughout the day.
  • Wear the right lenses: An eye test will establish whether you need a different prescription for your glasses or contact lenses. It’s important to wear the correct prescription lenses. This will improve your quality of life and reduce the risk of accidents such as falls.

Source: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/over60s/Pages/eyehealth.aspx

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If you are looking for a place for undergoing cataract surgery or want to learn more about the treatment prospects or cataract surgery cost in Kolkata, get in touch with us at http://www.dishaeye.org/appointment.

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