Common Causes of Vision Loss in Older Adults

Sunrise Senior Living  |  November 24, 2021
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As our nation continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have delayed routine health screenings. For some it was because providers paused nonessential medical appointments prior to an available vaccine. Others were fearful of being exposed to the virus while waiting in small office spaces.

One health screening seniors need to stay on track with is a visit to their eye doctor at least once a year. Vision problems are more common as we grow older. While some diseases can’t be reversed, others can be treated with early intervention.

Vision Symptoms Not to Ignore

If you or a family elder develop any of the following vision changes, it’s a good idea to call your doctor for further advice and follow-up:

  • Cloudy or tunnel vision
  • Burning or itching eyes
  • Straining to read print
  • Excessive tearing in eyes
  • Swollen or painful eyelids
  • Inability to produce tears
  • Twitching eyelids
  • Yellowish cast to field of vision
  • Trouble distinguishing green from blue
  • Gritty feeling, especially when opening or closing eyes

From cataracts to glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration (AMD), there are a variety of reasons an older adult’s vision might be changing.

It’s important to know that some vision changes are warning signs that can be linked to strokes and other neurological problems:

  • Abrupt loss of vision in one or both eyes
  • Double or blurry vision that comes on suddenly
  • Rapid or uncontrolled eye movement
  • Sudden sharp pain in or behind one or both eyes

Don’t wait to see if the symptoms resolve on their own before seeking treatment. Call 911 without delay.

Protect Your Eyes

If you are wondering if there are any steps you can take to protect your eyesight as you grow older, there is good news. From sunglasses to nutrition, here are a few tips for keeping your vision healthy:

  • Wear sunglasses: While most of us think of sunglasses as a fashion accessory or just a way to block the sun from our eyes, they actually do much more. Sun exposure can put you at a high risk of developing cataracts. Summer UV Safety Tips for Seniors is a good article to read to learn more about sunglasses and eye health.
  • Eat well: Surprisingly, diet plays a role in vision health. Some vitamins and minerals are known for promoting better vision. Foods that are rich in vitamin C, anthocyanins, omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene are good ones to include. You’ll find them in berries, leafy greens, carrots, eggs, grapes, sweet potatoes, yellow pepper, cantaloupe, apricots, and pumpkin.
  • Routine eye exams: Finally, talk with your eye doctor to determine how often you should visit. The minimum recommendation for seniors is usually once every year. Those who have vision problems will likely need to go more often.

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