Loss of vision, whether slight or severe, is a common problem among the elderly population. By the age of 65, one in three people are suffering from some degree of eye disease that contributes to impaired vision. Aside from the obvious problems that having impaired vision presents in life, it can also lead to depression among the elderly once they realize that they are not able to do the things they once were and that their independence is in peril. Sometimes the reason for one’s impaired vision is a benign condition that can be easily corrected with glasses or other non-invasive techniques. Most often, however, the underlying cause is a disease itself for which there is either no cure or no cure that can offer promising results. Here are some examples of both kinds of eye conditions – the benign and the more serious.

Floaters

Floaters are strands of protein like particles that often wander through our line of vision, especially in bright or natural light. Floaters, although annoying, generally aren’t harmful or cause for concern unless accompanied by other vision issues like flashes of light.

Dry Eyes

Dry eyes happen when the tear glands aren’t able to produce enough tears to effectively lubricate the eyes. Burning, itching, and redness are common signs of dry eyes. Although in most cases dry eyes are not serious, over an extended period of time, left untreated, a reduction in vision can occur.

Conjunctivitis

Commonly known as “pink eye”, conjunctivitis is an infection of the eyelids and cornea. It is treated with antibiotics and usually doesn’t cause any lasting effects.

Cataracts

Cataracts are films of tissue that grow over the eye itself, causing one’s vision to become cloudy. These growths form slowly, usually with no warning signs or symptoms. If the cataracts become very thick and visible on the eye, surgery is usually recommended to remove them, which often restores vision.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a condition where the optic nerve is damaged by an elevated pressure inside the eye. If glaucoma is not diagnosed and treated quickly, it can lead to a total and permanent loss in vision. Treatment options vary from using drops for the eye that alleviate the pressure to laser surgery where a hole is put into each eye to keep the pressure from building up inside again.

Because there are so many things that can go wrong with our vision as we age, it is imperative that caregivers and family members of elderly loved ones make sure to schedule regular eye exams and discuss any concerns with qualified ophthalmologist.

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