4 Common Eye Diseases that Cause Blindness in Aging Eyes

aging eyes

Spot vision problems early through behavior changes

Vision problems start slowly and are usually painless. That’s why they can be hard to detect in aging eyes, even for your older adult themselves.

The earliest signs of vision problems are usually behavior changes. When you notice your older adult acting differently, it could be time to get their vision checked by an eye doctor.

For example, you might notice that your older adult avoids games with grandchildren that involve reading. Maybe they’re mixing up medications or canned foods that have similar labels. Or, you might have seen them frequently tripping over things that are directly in front of them.

We explain the 4 most common eye diseases that cause blindness in seniors and show how they affect vision. Knowing what your older adult might be seeing helps you identify warning signs.




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Early detection and treatment prevents blindness

Getting regular eye exams is the key to keeping aging eyes healthy. With these 4 most common eye diseases, early detection and treatment can save vision.

Don’t wait until significant vision loss has already occurred. If your older adult has any of these signs of vision changes or problems, no matter how small, get them to the eye doctor ASAP.

 

1. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

aging eyes macular degeneration

What is AMD?

  • Damage to the part of the retina that lets us see straight ahead.
  • Usually causes a slow, painless loss of vision.
  • Leading cause of vision loss and blindness in Americans aged 65 and older.

Signs of AMD

  • Shadowy areas in the center of their vision.
  • Not seeing things right in front of them.
  • Unusually fuzzy or distorted vision.

AMD Treatment

  • Treatments may delay the progression or improve vision.
  • There isn’t a complete cure for AMD.

 

2. Cataracts

aging eyes cataracts

What are cataracts?

  • Causes vision to become cloudy or hazy.
  • Often starts gradually and, at first, causes barely noticeable vision changes.
  • Most common cause of vision loss in people over age 40.

Signs of cataracts

  • Having a harder time seeing the clock or reading.
  • Blurry vision.

Treatments for cataracts

  • Early stage: Stronger glasses, magnifiers, or better lighting.
  • Later stages: Simple, quick, and almost painless surgery.

 

3. Diabetic eye disease (diabetic retinopathy)

aging eyes diabetic retinopathy

What is diabetic retinopathy?

  • A complication of diabetes.
  • Caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina.
  • At first it’s not noticeable, but over time, it can worsen and cause vision loss, usually in both eyes.

Signs of Diabetic Retinopathy

  • Not seeing things that should be obvious in front of them.
  • The longer someone has diabetes, the more likely they will get diabetic retinopathy.

Treatments

  • Depend on the stage of diabetic retinopathy.
  • It’s best to identify and treat this early.
  • If some vision loss has already happened, it can’t always be recovered.

 

4. Glaucoma

aging eyes glaucoma

What is glaucoma?

  • A group of eye disorders that damage the optic nerve. This nerve carries information from your eye to your brain.
  • Most types cause no pain and have no symptoms until significant vision loss occurs.

Signs of glaucoma

  • Not being able to see things in their peripheral vision.
  • A routine eye exam detects glaucoma early by measuring the pressure inside your eye.

Glaucoma treatments

  • Medicated eye drops keep eye pressure low.
  • It’s important to use the prescribed eye drops because not using them can actually lead to blindness. Yikes!

 

Next Step  Find state and national resources that provide financial aid to people with vision problems

 

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By DailyCaring Editorial Team
Image: netdoctor, The Doctors (56 sec), Robbins Eye Center, Wichita Optometry, vincett eye care associates

 

This article wasn’t sponsored and doesn’t contain affiliate links. For more information, see How We Make Money.


2 Comments

  • Reply April 24, 2017

    Joseph Dabon

    Nice article though I can’t say I have not read similar ones before. What makes this attractive is the way it is written -simple and straightforward.

    However, I am often confused by the use of words. For example, this phrase – “can’t always be recovered.”

    Can you make up your mind whether it can’t be recovered or always recovered?

    • Reply April 24, 2017

      DailyCaring

      Thanks Joseph! I’m glad you found this article helpful. When we say that recovering vision that’s lost to diabetic retinopathy isn’t always possible, we mean is that each person’s eye health is different. In some cases, doctors may be able to help the person recover some of the vision that was lost. In other cases, it may not be possible.

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