Growing older can be a time of great discovery and freedom. In an age where we are all living longer, active seniors are redefining what the retirement experience can be. But even with all the potential for more quality years to get the most out of life, growing older can still present us with some serious inconveniences and difficulties. New aches and pains and more chance for health complications haunt many of us as we age. The eyes, for one common example, often simply stop working as well they used to as we age.
Regular checkups and screenings become increasingly important as each of us gets older – and, of course the eyes are no exception to this rule.
No one disputes the fact that senior citizens are more likely than younger people to develop chronic eye disorders such as glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration. With all three of these conditions, early detection is absolutely essential to prevent catastrophic loss of vision, including total blindness.
A lot of older patients don’t realize that it is also possible for a comprehensive eye exam to uncover symptoms of significant health problems in other parts of the body. For instance, carotid artery blockages, hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes can all be detected earliest through the eyes. We often refer senior citizens to their primary care doctors for diagnosis and treatment upon discovery of one of the warning signs for these serious health conditions.
The best way to steer clear of any issues with your eyes is to be sure that you always have an annual comprehensive eye exam. The is the simplest, lowest-stress way to keep an eye out for anything unusual going on with your eyes and overall health. Here are some things your doctor will be looking for:
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in seniors. Early detection and treatment, however, can slow its progress significantly. A couple of different types of AMD exist, and the type determines the treatment – ranging from laser surgery, medication or dietary supplements to slow the disorder. Unfortunately, there is no cure for AMD, so, again, prevention is the best solution.
Glaucoma is often called, “the silent thief of sight” because very often, it goes unnoticed until a great deal of damage has already been done, and significant sight has been lost already. It’s caused by too much pressure in the eyes. Fortunately, when caught early, doctors can often manage glaucoma effectively and prevent vision loss.
Cataracts are a nearly universal part of aging. The lens in the eyes can get cloudy and yellow as you age. Updated eyewear prescriptions, however, can often delay surgery, which is easy and low-risk.
Diabetic retinopathy affects diabetic patients. This occurs when tiny blood vessels in the eye that feed the retina become damaged, allowing fluids to seep into the eye. Treatment includes changes in diet and exercise, and also surgery.
Refractive errors refer to vision changes that occur during aging, usually making sight noticeably worse. A yearly checkup will help keep vision sharp with updated eyewear prescriptions.
To learn more about eye care for seniors, contact Dr. Carl Roth at Bridger Eye Care in Bozeman, Montana, today.