Question: I’m a 65-year-old woman who has worn glasses since childhood. My overall vision is good, but I am wondering what eye issues I should be aware of as I grow older. What are your thoughts?
Answer: As we get older, our eyes and vision can change. But, as the experts at the Cleveland Clinic remind us, we can take routine steps to maintain our eye health:
- Get regular checkups to detect diseases that could cause serious eye problems, such as diabetes.
- Visit your ophthalmologist or optometrist once each year. Most eye diseases can be treated successfully if they are detected early. During your appointment, your doctor may dilate or enlarge your pupils by putting drops into your eyes, testing your eyesight, and measuring your eye pressure to determine you don’t have the high eye pressure associated with glaucoma.
- Always consult an eye doctor immediately if you experience abrupt loss of eyesight, blurred vision, eye pain, double vision, redness, swelling of your eye or eyelid, or notice any discharge leaking from your eyes.
Some eye problems associated with aging are listed below and should be mentioned to your healthcare provider, should you have any associated symptoms:
- Presbyopia is difficulty seeing close-at-hand objects or reading fine print. This condition causes people to hold reading materials at arm’s length and develop “tired eyes” or headaches while reading or doing other close work. This often begins around age 35 to 40.
- Floaters are specks or streaks that glide across your field of vision. People sometimes notice them in well-lit rooms or outdoors in glaring sun. Much of the time, floaters are normal, but on occasion they can indicate serious problems, such as a detached retina.
- Dry eyes occur when tear glands produce too few or poor-quality tears. They can cause itching, burning, or even vision loss.
- Tearing, or having too many tears, can come from being sensitive to light, wind, or temperature changes. You can shield your eyes or wear sunglasses to prevent this problem, and have it checked by a physician.
- Cataracts are cloudy growths that form on the lens in the front of the eye. These grow slowly, without causing pain, redness, or tearing. Eventually, if cataracts become large or thick, they can impact the clarity and color of a person’s vision.
- Glaucoma is a condition in which pressure within the eye rises above safe, normal levels. Left untreated, it can lead to permanent vision loss and blindness, often without noticeable symptoms. Your physician can screen for glaucoma.
- A detached retina occurs when the inner and outer layers of the retina become separated. Symptoms of retinal detachment include sudden spots or flashes of light, wavy-seeming vision, or a dark shadow anywhere in your field of vision.
Some people who have trouble seeing even when wearing glasses may be helped by low-vision aids. These devices include telescopic glasses, lenses that filter light, and magnifying glasses. People with moderate visual difficulties can adjust e-books, iPads, websites, and other electronic devices to display larger, darker fonts, which are easier to read.
Our eye health is a most precious asset, and, with regular care and attention, we can work to maintain it.