Age Related Vision Problems

Many common, age-related problems affecting vision can be addressed with reasonable solutions. In fact, on or about age 60, you may find you need more light for tasks performed indoors or in darker conditions outdoors. This is because your eye’s pupil no longer opens as widely as it once did to allow light to enter. Because less light is reaching your retina where vision processing occurs, images are no longer as sharp as they once were.

You could consider these steps to help counteract this problem:

• Install task lighting underneath cabinets or above stoves to help illuminate darker corners.

• Make sure you have enough lighting to brighten work surfaces in your garage, sewing room or other areas where you need to see fine details.

Also, make sure you have regular eye exams that include tests that are vital for older eyes to rule out potentially serious age-related eye diseases. Your eye doctor also can advise you about the best vision correction options to reduce the effects of normal age-related declines in near vision, color vision and contrast sensitivity.

What about permanent vision loss?

Unfortunately, some serious vision losses are due to blindspots caused by age-related eye diseases including glaucoma, advanced macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.

Many low vision devices are available for people with permanent vision loss. To assist them with daily living tasks, these devices include:

• Strong magnifying lenses with extra illumination, for reading and other near vision work.

• Audio tapes, specially adapted computer or television screens, and telescopes.

• Lens filters and shields to reduce glare.

One disturbing trend noted in recent years has been an increased tendency in our society to overlook or neglect the vision correction needs of elderly citizens, including those living in nursing homes.

Consequences of delaying vision correction or needed treatment, especially in elderly people, can be severe. Uncorrected vision problems can contribute to falls that seriously injure elderly people and greatly reduce their confidence in their ability to live independently.

If you have older relatives or friends living alone or in a nursing home, consider serving as their advocate to make sure they receive appropriate vision care and treatment of age-related eye diseases, to maximize their quality of life.