Vision Disorders and Aging: The Implications for Seniors

Without even knowing it, your health choices today could impact your vision health later in life. Most eye disorders develop painlessly over time until your vision has changed significantly.

With more than 1.6 million Michigan adults over the age of 65, it’s likely age-related vision issues affect you or someone you love. However, regular eye exams and smart lifestyle choices can improve your chances to prolong good vision well into your golden years.

One vision disorder specific to aging adults is age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The American Optometrist Association classifies the disorder as an eye disease affecting the center of the light-sensitive retina at the back of your eye, or the macula. This small part of your eye ensures everyday activities, including reading, watching TV and recognizing faces are seamless.

In addition to AMD, the following vision diseases can slowly develop as you get older:

  • Diabetic retinopathy – This disease causes progressive damage to blood vessels that nourish the retina, and is a common condition among people with diabetes. The chances of you developing diabetic retinopathy increase the longer you’re living with diabetes.
  • Cataracts – These cloudy areas in a typically clear part of the lens of your eye can interfere with normal vision, depending on size and location. Cataracts normally develop in both eyes and cause increased sensitivity to glares and dull colors.
  • Glaucoma – This group of eye disorders associated with damages to the optic nerve can cause permanent vision loss. Those most susceptible to this disease are people with a family history of glaucoma, African Americans and older adults.
  • Retinal detachment – Most often an accident, retinal detachment is the tearing or separation of the retina from the underlying tissue in the eye. However, trauma to the eye or head and advanced diabetes can also cause detachment and must be treated immediately to prevent permanent vision loss.

Visiting your optometrist annually can significantly improve your chances of detecting these, and other, vision disorders.

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