Age over 40
If you’re over 40, you’ve probably noticed your eyes have changed. Most notably, presbyopia — the normal, age-related loss of near focusing ability — usually becomes a problem in our 40s, requiring new vision correction solutions. Learn about measures you can take to keep seeing clearly for years to come.
Menopause and Vision
Many older people have dry eyes that can range from mild to severe. And if you are 50 or older and female, your chance of developing a more severe form of dry eye syndrome is even higher.
Women who have undergone menopause may experience disrupted chemical signals that help maintain a stable tear film. Resulting inflammation also can lead to decreased tear production and dry eye. Some theories indicate that a decline in the hormone androgen could be an underlying cause of dry eye in older women.
What Can You Do if You Are Older and Develop Dry Eyes?
While levels of the female hormone estrogen also decrease following menopause, studies have not shown any beneficial effect of estrogen hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in relieving dry eye. If you are over 40 and have been diagnosed with dry eye, you may want to avoid laser vision correction surgery. Procedures such as LASIK and PRK can permanently affect nerve function of your eye’s clear surface (cornea) and worsen dry eye problems.
Dry eyes are common in women after menopause. If you choose to have a refractive surgery consultation, be sure to tell your examining eye doctor about your dry eye condition. Your doctor can perform special tests to determine if your eyes are moist enough for laser vision correction.
If you already have been diagnosed with dry eyes, make sure you are being treated appropriately for other conditions associated with both aging and dry eye, such as rheumatoid arthritis and thyroid autoimmune disease. Also, keep in mind that many medications required by adults over age 40 may cause or worsen dry eye problems.
Examples include diuretics (often prescribed for heart conditions) and antidepressants. If you suspect a medication may be the underlying cause of your dry eye, be sure to discuss this with your doctor. It’s possible that changing to a different medical treatment may be equally effective without causing dry eye problems. Also, concurrent treatment of your dry eye may be necessary. Finally, it’s possible that allergies or other problems that cause eye inflammation may be the underlying cause of your dry eye symptoms. Your eye doctor may recommend over-the-counter or prescription eye drops to relieve both your eye allergies and inflammatory dry eye problems.
Driving at Night
If you are an older driver, what can you do to keep yourself and loved ones safe on the road at night? First, assess your ability to drive safely. Also take these steps: Make sure you visit an eye care professional at least once every two years, or even more frequently if you have a significant eye condition or visual complaint. Tell your eye doctor about any problems you experience on the road at night so that you can undergo specialized testing, such as evaluation of your visual field or contrast sensitivity. If you have diabetes, get your eyes examined at least once yearly, and closely follow your doctor’s recommendations regarding diet, blood sugar control, insulin, and self-care to reduce the risks of diabetic retinopathy, which can progress to severe vision loss without warning.
Seek immediate care when you detect symptoms of sight-threatening eye diseases. Remember that many symptoms of eye problems appear late in the disease process, so your urgent response is extremely important. Older drivers may have trouble perceiving and quickly reacting to unexpected events. Ask your eye care professional to prescribe special eyeglasses that may help you see better on the road at night.
Anti-reflective coatings can cut down on glare. Lenses developed with wavefront diagnostic technology can reduce halos, star bursts, glare, and other distracting aberrations. If you are a candidate for cataract surgery, ask your surgeon about replacing your clouded natural lenses with an aspheric intraocular lens. These artificial lenses are engineered to provide better contrast sensitivity and crisper vision than would be possible with the implantation of traditional, spherical intraocular lenses.
Be extra cautious when approaching intersections, where 40 percent of fatal collisions involving older motorists occur, according to a March 2007 study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The most common reason for these crashes was a failure to yield, especially when making a left turn.
Also, consider passing along these guidelines to a loved one who shows signs of needing some extra help.
Expert Advice for Driving Safely
Do you get lost behind the wheel? Do your friends and family members worry about your driving? Do other cars seem to appear out of nowhere? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be losing your ability to drive safely. Other indications include:
Minimize the risks of driving at night as you get older by planning your trips before you leave home, driving only on streets you know, and avoiding dark, unlighted roadways. Limit your trips to places you can easily reach and that are close to home.
Avoid risky spots like ramps and left turns. Plan for extra driving time if conditions are bad, and don’t drive if you are stressed or tired. Stay focused on driving only, avoiding distractions.
Always drive defensively. Leave at least two car lengths between you and the car in front of you, and even more space in bad weather or when driving fast.
Keep your windows clear, and drive a car with features that make driving safer, such as power steering, power brakes, automatic transmission, large mirrors and air bags. Keep your car in good repair, maintaining fresh windshield wipers and clean, aligned headlights. Consider hand controls for your gas pedal and brakes if you have leg problems.
Renew skills with a driving class every few years. Some car insurance companies will lower your bill for completing such a course.Read More
Vision over 60
As you reach your 60s and beyond, you need to prepare for normal vision changes that can include cataracts. Also, be alert to warning signs of more serious, age-related vision problems that could cause blindness. But wise lifestyle choices and regular eye exams can significantly improve your chances of maintaining good eye health even as you age.
Top 10 signs of age related vision problems
Regular eye exams are the very best way to make sure you maintain healthy vision for a lifetime, even as you grow older. But being aware of certain warning signs also can help you take appropriate steps to maintain your eyesight, particularly if vision symptoms occur suddenly. In many cases, such as with a retinal detachment or rapid onset of glaucoma, prompt intervention can even help preserve eyesight before vision loss becomes permanent.
While many eye problems can occur at any age, they often are more common in older individuals. Unfortunately, aging also increases your risk for certain types of sight-threatening eye conditions that can lead to blindness.
Eye Problems and Warning Signs
The following signs and symptoms can indicate a medical emergency. In most cases, you should see your eye doctor
immediately if you experience: Be aware of warning signs that something is going wrong with your eyesight. A flood of spots and floaters in your field of vision. Usually, spots and floaters are due to a benign, age-related condition called vitreous detachment. This occurs when the eye’s gel-like interior liquefies and separates from the retina, where vision processing occurs. But a sudden onset of spots and floaters can also be caused by a serious, sight-threatening tear or detachment of the retina. If you suddenly see a shower of spots and floaters, visit your eye doctor immediately.
A sensation that a dark curtain has settled across your field of view. This could be caused by a retinal detachment, which occurs when the eye structure (retina) responsible for processing images separates from the underlying layer of nourishing blood vessels (choroid). If the retina is not reattached within hours, vision loss can be permanent.
Sudden eye pain, redness, nausea, and vomiting. These symptoms can signal a sudden (acute) attack of narrow-angle glaucoma, which can permanently damage the eye’s optic nerve. Immediate treatment is required to prevent permanent vision loss.
A gradual (or sudden) narrowing of your field of vision, leaving you with the ability to see only directly in front of you. This could mean you have developed glaucoma that damages your optic nerve, with accompanying vision loss at the "edges" of your field of view. Without intervention, vision loss will continue and permanent blindness may result.
If you experience sudden vision problems, visit your eye doctor immediately. Ignoring this kind of medical emergency can mean permanent loss of vision. A gradual loss of central vision, including distortions such as seeing wavy instead of straight lines. These symptoms may be caused by macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of blindness among older Americans. In the past, there was no effective treatment for AMD. But today, several new medical treatments can effectively halt vision loss due to macular degeneration. Some treatments may even help you regain some vision lost to AMD, if therapy is initiated soon enough. Cloudy and blurred eyesight, "halos" around lights at night, loss of bright color vision. These vision changes may be due to cataracts. Cataracts tend to worsen gradually over time and are not a medical emergency.
Nevertheless, as your eye’s natural lens continues to cloud with aging, you will eventually go blind unless you have cataract surgery that replaces your cloudy lens with an artificial one. If you wait too long for cataract surgery, you increase your chance of complications such as glaucoma. Also, if cataract surgery is postponed long enough, the cloudy lens can harden and become more difficult to remove. Blind spots in your field of view, accompanied by eye floaters and unexplained blurred vision. If you have diabetes, these vision problems may be due to the onset of diabetic retinopathy. Regular eye exams are essential for diabetics, particularly if you are over age 60. By evaluating the condition of your retina, your eye doctor also can provide valuable information to your general physician about the control and severity of your diabetes. "Scratchy" or irritated sensation, eye surface pain, tearing. These signs and symptoms are most commonly due to dry eye syndrome. Dry eye is usually more of a nuisance than a sight-threatening condition. But symptoms can be severe, particularly as we grow older and our eyes lose their ability to provide the right kind of lubrication for comfort. Consult your eye care practitioner for advice about remedies, which may include over-the-counter or prescription eye drops.
Blurry vision, ghost images, and night "halos" can all be warning signs of eye problems. Double vision, double images, or "ghost" images. Double vision can be caused by many eye conditions. In some cases, double vision also can signal an underlying health emergency such as a stroke. If you have a sudden onset of double vision, see your eye doctor or family physician immediately.Sudden blurry vision in one eye. If you are over 60, your chance of developing a macular hole in the part of the retina where fine focusing occurs greatly increases. Because macular holes can worsen and cause permanent loss of vision, it’s important to visit your eye care practitioner for a diagnosis and prompt treatment (if necessary).
While some vision symptoms are less urgent, sudden vision loss means you should immediately contact your eye care practitioner. If your regular eye doctor is unavailable, visit a hospital emergency room or urgent care facility. Because delay can mean permanent vision loss, never hesitate to seek help.You also can reduce your chances of developing serious eye problems by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, along with undergoing regular eye exams.
Safe driving after 60
If you are 60 or older, driving a car might be riskier than you realize. Research shows that our ability to see moving objects while we ourselves are in motion deteriorates much sooner than our ability to see stationary objects. Age-related eye diseases also can compromise vision, even before we are aware of symptoms. As we grow older, our driving skills are further challenged because we also lose peripheral vision and our reaction time slows.
Driving Tips for Older Motorists
These tips can help you stay safe on the roadways, especially at night: Don’t use your cell phone while driving. This is a bad idea at any age. But older drivers particularly are slower to react to a driving emergency, even without the distraction of a cell phone. The risks of talking on the phone while driving are documented in more than 125 studies, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Cell phones reduce reaction time and performance in older motorists more than in younger drivers. Use extra caution at intersections. In a 2007 study, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found 40 percent of fatal collisions involving elderly motorists occurred at intersections. The most common reason for these crashes was a failure to yield, especially when taking a left turn. Avoid driving on unfamiliar streets at night. The National Safety Council says traffic death rates are three times higher at night than during the day. As aging Baby Boomers continue to take to the roads at night — in greater numbers than their parents — the risk of fatal crashes is expected to increase substantially. Even if you wear eyeglasses that seem to work well, you may not be equipped for glare, hard-to-read signs, and the other unique challenges of twilight and nighttime driving. For these reasons, you should avoid routes with poor lighting, irregular twists, and poor signage.
Assess your driving ability based on reactions of others. Honking horns, worried loved ones, warnings from police, and blinding headlights suggest rethinking where and for how long you should drive. If you are having difficulty, limit yourself to shorter trips, preferably during daylight and when weather conditions are favorable. Keep your car in good repair, plan extra time for travel, stay at least two car lengths behind the nearest vehicle, and follow expert advice for driving safely.
If you are over 60, your eyesight likely is not as good as it once was. You can improve driving safety with a few simple precautions, such as making sure you turn your head to look both ways at intersections.
How to protect your Eyesight
Some type of sight-threatening eye problem affects one in six adults aged 45 and older. And the risk for vision loss only increases with age.
Tips for Protecting Your Eyes
To protect your eyesight and keep your eyes healthy as you age, consider these simple guidelines:
Find out if you are at higher risk for eye diseases. Be aware of your family’s health history. Do you or any of your family suffer from diabetes or have a history of high blood pressure? Are you over the age of 65? Regular eye exams are particularly important, because an early diagnosis can limit any vision loss and help preserve your eyesight.
Have regular physical exams to check for diabetes and high blood pressure. If left untreated, these diseases can cause eye problems. In particular, diabetes and high blood pressure can lead to conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, glaucoma, and ocular hypertension. Look for warning signs of changes in your vision. If you start noticing changes in your vision, see your eye doctor immediately. Some trouble signs to look for include double vision, hazy vision, and difficulty seeing in low light conditions. Other signs to look for are frequent flashes of light, floaters, and eye pain and swelling. All of these symptoms can indicate a potential eye health problem that demands immediate attention.
Want good vision all your life? Take care of your eyes, and get regular eye exams. Exercise more frequently. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, some studies suggest that regular exercise — such as walking — can reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration by up to 70 percent. Protect your eyes from harmful UV light. You should always wear sunglasses with proper UV protection to shield your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays. This will help reduce your risk of cataracts and other eye damage.
Eat a healthy and balanced diet. Numerous studies have shown that antioxidants can possibly reduce the risk of cataracts. These antioxidants are obtained from eating a diet containing plentiful amounts of fruits and colorful or dark green vegetables. Studies have also shown that eating fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids might also prevent macular degeneration.
Get your eyes checked at least every two years. A thorough eye exam, including dilating your pupils, can determine your risk for major eye diseases such as diabetic retinopathy, which has no early warning signs or symptoms. An eye exam also can ensure that your vision prescription for eyeglasses or contact lenses is up to date.
Don’t smoke. The many dangers of smoking have been well documented. When it comes to eye health, people who smoke are at greater risk of developing age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. It’s true that following these steps is no guarantee of perfect vision throughout your lifetime. But maintaining a healthy lifestyle and having regular eye exams will certainly decrease your risk of developing a sight-stealing eye problem that otherwise might have been prevented.
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