Vision loss is the most common eye and vision problem for seniors. Seniors who experience increasing changes in their eyesight or have other eye diseases such as cataracts and diabetes are at an especially high risk for developing vision and eye problems. One of the reasons for this is that aging changes the ways our eyes work. As we age our eyes tend to lose less of their water-soluble compounds, or photoreceptors, which provide the information from the light that the retina needs to work. As a result, vision blurring, or lazy eye, can occur.
Some of the warning signs of advancing vision problems include: difficulty seeing close objects, decreased depth of field, or the inability to focus on close subjects. Older adults who have a family history of glaucoma, cataracts or diabetes are at especially high risk for developing glaucoma, and should have regular eye examinations. Often time vision loss is associated with the onset of some other vision problem, so keeping an eye examination schedule handy is important. Here are some tips to help you better understand vision health problems and their treatments.
Age related vision problems are typically classified as either primary or secondary vision loss. Primary vision loss occurs as the result of damage to the optic nerve, which is primarily due to advancing age. Age related loss of peripheral vision, however, can also be caused by the development of central vision problems, nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism. Secondary vision loss is often caused by diseases such as macular degeneration, which causes the part of the eye called the macula to grow too small. In some people, the disease causes the part of the eye called the retina to grow too thick.
Some of the most common conditions that can cause near vision or farsightedness include age-related macular degeneration and cataract. Both of these diseases cause the vision field to shrink, often resulting in a blurry vision field. If you think you have either of these conditions, you should visit your optometrist for a comprehensive eye examination and refractive surgery treatment. During your examination, your optometrist will examine your eyes under a variety of lighting conditions, including the customary lighted exam in your doctor’s office. Your optometrist will also evaluate your eyes for other potential vision conditions that may not be related to your initial examination.
Your eye doctor may also order tests called refraction examinations to determine if you have a problem with your focusing ability. Typically, refraction examinations are performed in your ophthalmology office and focus on your near vision by testing your ability to focus on nearby objects. Your optometrist will also evaluate the ability of your eyes to focus on distant objects by ordering an evaluation known as distance reaction.
You may also be referred to an ophthalmologist who specializes in treating vision problems associated with strabismus (crossing and turning of the eyes). Strabismus is a vision problem wherein one eye does not correctly point to nearby objects. The words “strabismus” refers to the “split eye” wherein both eyes actually view different objects at different angles. In most cases, the condition is the result of having weak muscles of the eyelids or problems associated with eye muscles.