Current statistics reveal that 65% of those with visual impairment and 82% of those who are blind are over 50 years old. That’s why everyone age 50 or older should visit an eye care professional for a comprehensive dilated eye exam. As you age, you are at higher risk of developing age-related eye diseases and conditions. Many of these eye diseases have no early warning signs or symptoms, but a dilated exam can detect eye diseases in their early stages before vision loss occurs.
Glaucoma is one of the main causes of blindness in the United States. Anyone can get glaucoma, but African Americans over the age of 40 and anyone over the age of 60 has a higher risk of developing the disease. Glaucoma damages the optic nerve. This nerve is responsible for transmitting information from the eye to the brain. When the pressure inside the eye becomes higher-than-normal, peripheral vision is lost. Patients also have trouble seeing in dim light.
Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
AMD damages the macula. The macula is a small spot near the center of the retina. You need this spot to see for sharp, central vision. AMD leads to a blurry area near the center of vision. You have trouble with reading, writing, driving. In some people, AMD can progress both slowly and quickly. It may lead to vision loss in one or both eyes.
By age 80, more than half of all Americans either have a cataract or have had cataract surgery. In a healthy eye, the lenses are primarily crystal clear and flexible. As you age, the lenses become less flexible and cloudy areas typically cover the entire lens inside your eye. This is what happens when you develop cataracts. The earliest signs of cataracts include cloudy or blurred vision, poor night vision, and looking at colors may not appear as vivid as they once did.
Diabetic Eye Disease
Diabetic eye disease is a complication of diabetes and a leading cause of blindness. The most common form is diabetic retinopathy which occurs when diabetes damages the tiny blood vessels inside the retina. As a result, the blood vessels will either bleed or leak fluid. If left uncontrolled, this can lead to permanent vision loss.
Dry Eye Syndrome
Dry eye syndrome is a result of chronic lack of sufficient moisture (oil, water or mucus) on the eye’s surface. This happens when the eye does not produce tears properly, or when the tears are not of the correct consistency and evaporate too quickly. Women have this problem more than men.
A regular eye exam will pick up these problems before they start. So make sure to schedule it in.