Can you imagine struggling to see the wonders all around you, and not being able to appreciate the majesty of nature and some of mankind’s greatest creations? Vision is a priceless gift, but over the course of a lifetime, your vision will probably degrade to some extent and you’ll be able to see less clearly. In Sierra Madre and elsewhere, October is World Blindness Month, so activists will do their best to increase awareness of blindness, its causes, its impacts, and how you can cope with it. Professional caregiving includes caring for the blind and understanding age-related changes in eyesight. Let’s discuss what some of those changes are, and what we can do to deal with them.
Developing eye issues
Everyone becomes at greater risk of developing eye issues as they age. As you age, you may develop eye conditions such as macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, dry eye, and glaucoma. Unfortunately, there are no real symptoms that provide a clue that damage is occurring to the eyes. For this reason, some level of permanent ocular damage will occur before a patient recognizes there’s a problem. This naturally results in a certain amount of vision loss. Have your vision checked annually to identify any issues as soon as possible.
Loss of peripheral vision
A great deal of research and observation has revealed that the average person will lose between 1 and 3 degrees of peripheral vision every 10 years. By the time you reach the age of 70, it’s entirely possible that you will have experienced a loss of between 20 and 30 degrees of your peripheral vision. A loss of peripheral vision can be a sign of a serious disease like glaucoma. This is an issue that you will want to discuss with your optometrist.
Over time, the quality and quantity of tears in an older person will decrease markedly. The risk of chronic dry eye is higher in older people, leading to persistent dryness and irritation in the eyes. This condition can be helped by applying eye drops or using ointments and gels that specifically treat dry eye. Some of these can be very effective in maintaining an adequate supply of moisture around the eyes.
People over 40 commonly experience blurry vision because their eyes lose flexibility and can’t focus on nearby objects. Wearing reading glasses that bring near objects into focus again may relieve the issue. Sometimes a person requires glasses that can do both; help them see objects up close and far away. Your optometrist may recommend bifocal or trifocal glasses which are available in a wide variety of styles and options.
Affecting either eye or both simultaneously, ptosis can be identified by a drooping of the upper eyelid. Sometimes the condition can be severe, causing the upper eyelid to droop down over the pupil and obstruct a person’s vision. Ptosis will occur when there is a weakness of the levator muscle, which lifts the eyelid. The condition can occur as a byproduct of surgery, some kind of eye disease, or by simple aging. The best cure for ptosis is surgery to strengthen the levator muscle so that the eyelid can function normally again.
Posterior vitreous detachment
PVD is when the gel behind the eye shrinks away from the retina. This happens to virtually everyone during aging, and the regular presence of ‘floaters’, objects that seem to float in your field of vision. Those suffering from PVD also experience flashes of light, which can surprise you if you’re not expecting them.
Loss of color vision
As we age, the cells responsible for color vision in the body decrease, making it challenging to tell colors apart. You may also notice that colors seem less vibrant and less alive. This too is a byproduct of aging, and in this case, the cells associated with color vision are affected significantly. This condition should be checked immediately and treated as soon as possible.
Protect Your Vision
Many of the changes that we experience with our eyesight as we age can be helped with regular visits to an optometrist. Taking the time to care for your eyes will pay off handsomely, and you can enjoy all the beauty that’s around you for years to come.