12 Reasons for Vision Loss in Seniors

Jun 21, 2016

12 Reasons for Vision Loss in Seniors

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As we age, we face the possibility of developing and suffering from a number of health complications. Problems such as vision loss become more likely the older we get. Fortunately, many of these problems are preventable, or able to be delayed if they are caught and treated in time.

12 Reasons for Senior Vision Loss

1. Macular degeneration

Macular degeneration, or age-related macular degeneration (AMD), is the top cause of vision loss in seniors. The symptoms of AMD include the inability to see certain colors, details, and/or being able to see the center of a specific object clearly, but the outer edges appear blurred. Certain types of AMD can be cured by laser surgery, while others are deemed incurable at this time.

2. Floaters

Floaters typically appear in relation to aging, which causes the vitreous inside of the eyes, which clump together and affect a senior’s ability to see. There are tiny fibers within the vitreous that cause the individual to see shadows or black spots when they are focusing on things. Floaters typically don’t require treatment, but if they are greatly hindering vision, there are surgical procedures that can be done.

3. Cataracts

Simply put, a cataract is clouding in the eye that makes it difficult to see, by blocking the passage of light to the retina and other parts of the eye. Cataracts progress slowly and range in severity. Eye injuries, aging and other eye diseases can cause cataracts. Currently, the only sure way to treat cataracts is surgical.

4. Glaucoma

Glaucoma is caused by a continuous build-up of pressure in the eye, ultimately causing damage to the optic nerve and affecting the individual’s ability to see properly. If left untreated, Glaucoma can cause complete and permanent loss of vision. Glaucoma can be treated with eye drops but is most commonly treated with surgical procedures.

5. Dry Eyes

Dry eyes, or Dry Eye Syndrome, is caused by an imbalance in the individual’s tear system, causing the individual to experience eye pain, itching, redness, light sensitivity and blurry vision. Dry eyes range in severity and can be treated by eye drops or eye ointment, and a few non-invasive medical procedures.

6. Presbyopia

Presbyopia is the loss of flexibility in the eyeball’s lenses and causes blurred vision, which can result in headaches. This type of vision loss can be considered normal with aging. This form of vision loss is typically treated with glasses or contacts.

7. Detached Retina

A detached retina occurs when the retina becomes detached from the surrounding tissue, causing individuals to quickly and permanently lose vision if it is not tended to immediately. There are a few common treatments for retinal detachment, and most require surgery.

8. Corneal Disease

Corneal Disease, or Corneal Ulcers, are an open wound on the cornea of the eye and are typically caused by bacterial or viral infections. These can occur in association with the shingles virus, making them quite prevalent in older generations. There are a variety of treatments for corneal disease, including surgeries, ointments, drops and more.

9. Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis, or Pink Eye, is irritation, redness and swelling of the tissue surrounding the eye and eyelids. It is considered to be a bacterial infection, and is most prominent in young children, although it can occur at any age. Eye drops are typically the most effective way to treat Pink Eye.

10. Tearing

Tearing, often called Watery Eye, is caused by a malfunctioning tear gland and causes eye pain, inflammation, redness, itching and more. This eye disorder is relatively common and can be treated with prescription eye drops.

11. Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy occurs in individuals that are suffering from diabetes and occurs due to damaged blood vessels and nerve endings within the retina. While there is no treatment to cure diabetic retinopathy, some forms of laser surgery are capable of delaying vision loss.

12. Accidental injury

Eye injuries can happen at any age due to a number of different reasons.

To help prevent these 12 reasons for vision loss in seniors, please see your physician for regular eye exams.

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Frequently Asked Questions

I was told my diabetes can affect my vision. Is this true?

Yes, unfortunately diabetes can actually cause damage to the eyes. What happens is essentially this - higher blood glucose levels cause blood to become thicker, leading to more fluid around the lenses of the eye and blurred vision. High blood pressure is another way that the optic nerve can become damaged and can lead to blindness. If one’s blood glucose goes unchecked, retinopathy can cause permanent eye damage as well. Staying on top of your condition is one way to maintain healthy vision into your golden years!v

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What sorts of things happen to the eyes of people who develop cataracts?

Cataracts in seniors occur when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy and obstructs one's vision. For seniors with diabetes, the risk of developing cataracts is greater. If you think that you or a loved one may be developing cataracts, it's important to see a doctor. However, there are some symptoms you can look for ahead of time:

  • Faded colors
  • Frequent changes in eyeglass prescription
  • Impaired vision at night caused by effects of bright lights
  • Halo around lights
  • Problems with glares from lamps or the sun
  • Double vision
  • White/cloudy spot in the lens of eyes

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