Vision symptoms seniors shouldn't ignore

Sunrise Senior Living  |  August 14, 2017

Nobody should ignore vision problems. That’s a given. But seniors should be on extra high alert for changes in their vision. 

It’s because these changes could very well be signs of an age-related eye disease. And, because some of these diseases can appear suddenly, it’s important to catch those signs early on.

Having your eyes checked once a year is one of the best ways to protect your vision.

Since this is National Eye Exam Month, it’s a great time to remind seniors that certain vision symptoms should never be ignored. You can learn about those symptoms below, but scheduling an annual eye exam is crucial for maintaining good eye health.

Vision Problems That Should Never be Swept Under the Rug

Take note of the following symptoms, and if you experience any of them, call your doctor.

  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Dry eyes
  • Tearing
  • Cloudy vision
  • Itching
  • Trouble reading, especially if the print is small
  • Eye strain
  • Burning
  • Gritty feeling
  •  Headache
  • Twitching eyelids
  • Pain in the eyelids
  • Inflamed eyelids
  • Things look yellow
  • Difficulty telling green from blue
  • Difficulty seeing an object placed against the same color background

Vision Issues that Might Require Emergency Care

There are also vision issues that might be a sign of a medical emergency. Call your primary care physician or 911 if you or a senior experiences:

  • Uncontrolled eye movement
  • Sudden blurry vision
  • Double vision
  • Sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes

Don’t attempt to self-diagnose!

Vision Issues Common Among Older Adults

Some eye diseases that your risk of developing increases with age include:

1. Presbyopia

Presbyopia is a common age-related farsightedness that’s easily corrected with eyeglasses. While it’s not serious, it should be corrected in order to preserve your vision.

2. Floaters

Floaters are another age-related change that doesn’t pose a serious threat to eye health. However, if you suddenly notice multiple floaters, it could be signs of a retina problem, and you should seek immediate medical attention.

3. Cataracts

If your vision is cloudy, there’s a chance it could be cataracts. By the time you reach 80, the likelihood of your having cataracts is 50 percent, according to WebMD. Other symptoms from the list above which are also associated with cataracts are yellow colors, double vision in one eye, and sensitivity to light.

4. Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

The dry form of AMD progresses slowly over a number of years, while the wet form is far more aggressive. Wet AMD can cause vision loss in just weeks. The main symptom is the loss of central vision, which is permanent. Its progression, however, can be slowed by laser treatments.

One of the top reasons for scheduling that annual eye exam is to check for signs of Macular Degeneration.

5. Glaucoma

Glaucoma risk increases as you age, but family history plays a role, too. If not caught and treated early, it can result in blindness. There are no early symptoms for most people. The main method of detecting glaucoma is to—you guessed it—visit your eye doctor once a year.

Making Home Safer for Seniors with Vision Problems

For anyone suffering vision problems, making the home safe and comfortable is essential. That includes keeping rooms well-lit. Installing sensor lights in bathrooms can help, too. There are even interior design techniques aimed at helping people with vision loss.

At Sunrise Senior Living communities, we’ve worked in dozens of subtle design elements expressly for the purpose of helping residents with aging eyes. They include the use of contrasting colors, positioning furniture to minimize glare, and easy-touch lamp sensors. It’s all part of the Sunrise Signature Experience, created to exemplify the highest standards in quality of life, in every dimension. Call us to schedule a tour and see for yourself!