If you’ve noticed changes in your vision over the last little while or so, you’re not alone. The Canadian Ophthalmological Society (2009) suggests that more than 70% of Canadians over 65 suffer from some form of deteriorating vision condition. Furthermore, the risk of acquiring vision problems increases with age – you’re three times more at risk of developing a vision related illness at 75 compared to younger adults.
As we age, our visual system changes, some of these changes are less pronounced than others, but there are ways to preserve your eyesight. It’s important to recognize and understand unusual and/or abnormal changes in vision before permanent or irreversible damage occurs.
Major eye conditions that can affect older adults include:
Cataracts – this is the natural clouding of the lens of the eye. Vision is cloudy in one or both eyes and may interfere with the ability to read or drive.
Glaucoma – high pressure in the eye destroys nerve fibres located in the retina. Glaucoma can cause vision loss and even blindness.
Floaters – tiny spots or pieces of fibres float in your line of vision when you move your eye around. Sometimes floaters are accompanied by flashes of light.
Macular Degeneration – part of the retina is damaged as it becomes difficult to keep objects in focus.
Diabetes-Related Eye Conditions – damaged blood vessels (due to the complications of diabetes) in the eye no longer supply the eye with much needed oxygen. If left unmanaged, diabetic-related eye conditions can eventually cause blindness.
It’s important to pay attention to your overall health, changes in your vision, and to see your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Pain (deep, throbbing, severe pain in the eye)
- Photophobia (persistent intolerance to light)
- Blurred vision (sudden or gradual inability to see clearly)
- Spots or floaters (tiny specs or debris floating in your line of vision)
- Dry eyes (sandy, gritty or burning sensation in the eye)
- Double vision
- Headache from the glare of light
PROTECT YOUR VISION
- See your health care practitioner regularly to monitor and manage your eye health
- Quit smoking
- Reduce glare – use lampshades that significantly reduce lightbulb glare
- Sunglasses – wear sunglasses with 99%-100% UVA and UVB protection – even on cloudy days if the UV index is 3 or higher
- Nibble on carrots – carrots contain vitamin A – one of the building blocks of healthy eyes