It’s a fact of life that vision changes occur as you get older, says the National Optometric Association. But, when detected and treated as a result of annual eye exams, these changes don’t have to compromise your lifestyle.
As you reach your 60s and beyond, you need to be aware of the age-related eye health problems that could cause vision loss. However, many eye diseases have no early symptoms. They may develop painlessly, and you may be unaware of vision changes until the condition is advanced. The good news is that regular eye exams can significantly improve your chances of maintaining good eye health as you age.
Age-Related Eye and Vision Problems
In the years after age 60, a number of eye diseases may develop that can affect your vision and eye health. An annual exam can help detect these conditions early, thereby increasing the chances of keeping healthy vision.
Here are common vision disorders that can be detected during eye exams:
- Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) affects the macula, the center of the light-sensitive retina at the back of the eye, causing loss of central vision.
- Diabetic retinopathy can occur in people with diabetes, and can result in progressive damage to the tiny blood vessels that nourish the retina, which, untreated, can lead to vision loss.
- Cataracts are cloudy areas in the normally clear lens of the eye that can interfere with normal vision. Current treatments are very successful in successfully restoring vision.
- Glaucoma results from increased pressure within the eyeball, which, if untreated, can damage the optic nerve, resulting to partial or full vision loss. People with a family history of glaucoma, African Americans, and older adults are at higher risk for developing the disease.
- Dry eye is a condition, common among older adults, in which the eyes produce insufficient tears or poor-quality tears to lubricate and nourish the eyes. Effective treatments are available.
How Often Should You Get an Eye Exam? What Will It Entail?
At age 65 and over, you should get an annual eye exam, says the American Optometric Association—or more frequently if you need monitoring and treatment for an existing condition. A comprehensive eye exam entails a review of your personal and family history for hereditary problems relating to eye disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or poor vision. The doctor will perform tests to check for vision acuity, eye muscle coordination, side (peripheral) vision, pupil response to light, color testing, eyelid health and function, interior and back of the eye, and measurement of fluid pressure within the eye.