Eighty-four-year-old Dee is blind in one eye as a result of a tennis accident when she was 62. That accident was life changing. Still active, she’s had to give up her love of tennis and driving at night is out. She relies on family, who willingly take her where she needs to go after dark.
Our bodies are constantly changing, and fluctuations in vision along with other conditions of the eyes can occur as we grow older. Some of these issues are harmless, while others are more serious.
A variety of vision issues could impact older adults. In fact, approximately one person in three has some form of vision-reducing eye disease by the age of 65, according to the American Family Physician.
Regular eye exams are a good way to avoid eye complications and catch vision problems early. Glasses are the most common way to correct vision issues. But there are other perception problems that are more complex and potentially dangerous to watch out for in yourself or an aging loved one, particularly if these issues come on suddenly.
Five signs of vision problems in older adults
A sudden onset of spots or floaters in the field of vision. Watch for spots that look like thread-like strands or squiggly lines. Generally, “floaters” are benign and a part of the aging process. 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, see an optician immediately.
The sensation of a dark curtain across your field of vision. This symptom could be caused by a retinal detachment, which occurs when the retina separates from the underlying layer of nourishing blood vessels. If the retina is not attached within hours, vision loss can be permanent.
Narrowing field of view. A reduction in the ability to see objects off to the sides could be a sign of glaucoma. Without intervention, peripheral vision loss could worsen and lead to tunnel vision or blindness.
Double vision, double images or “ghost images.” Double vision can be caused by many eye conditions. In some cases, double vision can also signal an underlying health emergency such as a stroke. If you have a sudden onset of double vision, see an optician immediately.
Sudden blind spot in one eye. Individuals over age 60 are at increased risk of developing a macular hole in the retina. These issues could cause permanent loss of vision so it’s important to see an optician if you notice a gray area or blind spot when viewing objects with one eye.
Although she’s had to give up some of her favorite pastimes like tennis, Dee hasn’t let her vision loss slow her down. With one “good” eye, she has been cleared by doctors to drive during daylight hours.
Dee offers advice for those who are experiencing symptoms of sensory loss like vision problems: don’t delay a visit to a doctor. “Follow up and do what medical professionals recommend. There’s so much marvelous technology. Don’t wait too long to get help.” For more research and information on common vision disorders such as Macular Degeneration and Glaucoma, visit BrightFocus.org.
Julie Ann Soukoulis is the owner of Home Instead Senior care office in Rohnert Park, mother of two and passionate about healthy living at all ages. Having cared for her own two parents, she understands your struggles and aims, through her website, www.homeinstead.com/sonoma to educate and encourage seniors & caregivers. Have a caregiving or aging concern? She’d love to hear from you at 586-1516 anytime