Vision changes occur as you get older, but these changes don’t have to affect your lifestyle. Knowing what to expect and when to seek professional care can help you safeguard your vision as you reach your 60’s and beyond. I love how many folks here in Boulder go to great lengths to live healthy & exciting lives. However, I am here to tell you many eye diseases have no early symptoms. They may develop painlessly, and you may not notice the changes to your vision until the condition is quite advanced. Wise lifestyle choices, regular eye exams and early detection of disease can significantly improve your chances of maintaining good eye health and vision as you enjoy your life in senior years.
You may not realize that health problems affecting other parts of your body can affect your vision as well. Regular eye exams are even more important as we age.
Following are vision disorders to be aware of:
- Age-related Macular Degeneration is an eye disease that affects the macula (the center of the light-sensitive retina at the back of the eye) and causes central vision loss. Activities like reading, driving, watching TV and recognizing faces can be affected. Peripheral or side vision remains unaffected.
- Cataracts are opaque areas in the normally clear lens of the eye and can interfere with normal vision. Cataracts can cause blurry vision, decreased contrast sensitivity, dulling of colors and increased sensitivity to glare.
- Diabetic retinopathy is a condition that occurs in people with elevated blood glucose which damages fragile retinal blood vessels causing blood and other fluids to leak and cloud vision. The condition usually affects both eyes. The longer a person has diabetes, the greater the risk. This is the #1 preventable cause of blindness in the U.S. .
- Dry eye is a condition in which a person produces too few or poor-quality tears. Tears maintain the health of the front surface of the eye and provide clear vision. Dry eye is a common and often chronic problem, particularly in older adults.
- Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases characterized by damage to the optic nerve resulting in vision loss. People with a family history of glaucoma, African Americans and older adults have a higher risk of developing the disease. Glaucoma is often painless and can have no symptoms. Over time, it can take away peripheral (side) vision.
- Retinal detachment is a tearing or separation of the retina which most often occurs spontaneously. If not treated promptly, it can cause permanent vision loss.
Driving Safely After 60
If you are 60 or older, driving a car may be increasingly difficult. Age-related vision changes and eye diseases can negatively affect your driving abilities, even before you are aware of symptoms. Take note of the following:
- Not being able to read road signs
- Difficulty seeing the dashboard
- Difficulty judging distances and speed
- Glare sensitivity: sunlight and headlights
- Problems seeing in low light or at night
- Not feeling comfortable with side vision
Supplements & Eye Health
Multiple studies have found certain vitamins and supplement combinations can be beneficial to eye health and visual performance. Cataract formation and macular degeneration can be slowed. However, some supplements can be dangerous in higher doses. I would be happy to talk with you about this.
Dealing with Vision Loss
Unfortunately, some people over 60 lose sight beyond the normal, age-related vision changes. Macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy are among the eye health conditions that can lead to permanent vision loss in varying degrees and forms.
Visual acuity alone is not a good predictor of a person’s degree of visual performance. Someone with relatively good acuity (e.g., 20/40) can have difficulty functioning, while someone with worse acuity (e.g., 20/100) might not experience any significant functional problems.
Luckily, we live in a time of extraordinary advances. Products now exist which can assist those with a vision impairment, such as devices which translate text to speech, instantly enlarge print, assist you around town or even your home. Technology now exists to allow you to perform every-day tasks with lower vision and treatments to halt or slow the progression of many vision and eye disorders. It is important to understand you are not alone. You can enjoy life even when challenged with lower levels of vision. Talk with me to learn more about your available options.
Boulder’s Alpine EyeCare Center is equipped with the latest in diagnostic technologies including retinal/nerve fiber layer analysis Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), pachymetry, retinal digital imaging, computed visual field testing and various other specialty testing capabilities. I look forward to meeting you and insuring you get the most from your precious eyes!
Tel: (720) 600-0440
2449 Pine Street (corner of Folsom)