As we get older, it’s natural for our eyesight to worsen. Maybe you need reading glasses where you never needed them before or things are just a bit cloudier than they used to be. In some cases, eyesight deteriorates to the point where it can be dangerous to do things that require strong eyesight, such as driving. We may be aware of our own eyesight. But for those with aging parents, how can you tell their eyesight is failing?
Presbyopia is the loss of ability to read small print. This is the most common sign of aging eyes, characterized by headaches when attempting to read something close to the eyes. If your parents have begun holding things at arms-length in order to read them, it may be time to get reading glasses. While this is not the ultimate sign that eyesight has been compromised, it is the first that the eyes are feeling their age.
Most people will see “floaters” in their vision at some point. They may look like small orbs or little strings that dance around your vision, never quite staying in the same place. While it’s normal to see these on occasion, an increase in frequency could mean there’s serious vision problems. If a parent complains of so many things clouded their sight, or that they’re accompanied by flashing of light, it’s time to set up an optometrist appointment.
3. Cloudy Areas
If there seems to be a strange cloudy area on the surface of your parent’s eyes, this could be a sign of cataracts. These cloudy areas keep light from passing through to the back of the eye, thereby causing vision loss. In severe cases, cataracts is often noticeable to the casual observer. Thankfully, this particular disorder can be rectified through a simple, safe surgery.
4. Loss of Peripheral Vision
Glaucoma is one of the biggest dangers to the eye. It’s one of the biggest causes of irreversible blindness. Age can be a huge factor in its development. It’s best to catch it early with regular testing at an optometrist, as there are no easy to spot symptoms. Most people won’t notice they’re losing their eyesight immediately, as it begins around the periphery. Some patients can lose up to 40% of their eyesight before they realize and it can’t be regained. So if you notice your parents don’t seem to be noticing things off to the side of their vision, “out of the corner of their eye,” as the saying goes, it would be prudent to check on their peripheral vision. The earlier glaucoma is caught, the more it can be slowed down.
5. Blurred Central Vision
One of the most common vision problems for aging eyes is age-related macular degeneration. The macula is the portion of cells in the retina responsible for small details like reading or facial recognition. Losing these cells can result in blurry vision in the direct center of the eye and struggles to recognize words or faces. Like glaucoma, it’s imperative to get it diagnosed as soon as possible to slow the spread down and maintain vision for as long as possible.
6. Eyelid Problems
There are a variety of problems that can occur with the eyelid and many of them are related to diseases and conditions. Drooping eyelids, blinking spasms, and inflamed eyelids near the eyelashes are all signs for different disorders and require an optometrist appointment.
7. Temporal Arteritis
Temporal Arteritis is a full body condition with serious repercussions for the eyes. This occurs when arteries throughout the body become inflamed. Symptoms include headache, consistent fever, shoulder and hip weakness, pain when chewing, and scalp tenderness. These inflamed arteries can lead to total vision loss, which is usually permanent. Elderly women are most often diagnosed with it, so be sure to double check on your mom.
8. Flashes of Light/Shadow
As mentioned before, if the appearance of floaters come with flashes of light, they might be the symptom of a bigger issue. But flashes of light on their own could also be a sign of retinal detachment, when the layers of the retina become separated. Other symptoms include strange shadows in vision or vision that looks wavy, like you’re underwater. This can usually be corrected with surgery.
While none of these symptoms are hard signs of diseases or disorders in aging eyes, it’s crucial to be on the lookout for them. An early diagnosis could mean the difference in how long your parents maintain their vision. When in doubt, book an appointment with their optometrist. Their eyes will thank you.