Lions Clubs International Foundation and Women’s Eye Health.org Eye Health for Seniors: Your Aging Eyes and Clear Vision for Life Attention Seniors: • By age 65, one in three Americans have some vision-impairing eye disease • Most don’t know it—often there are no early warning signs • Poor sight is not a natural part of aging • You can take measures to preserve your sight • Have eye disease detected and treated early • Visit an eye doctor at least every 1-2 years Did you know that: • Three-fourths (75%) of all blindness and vision impairment is either preventable or treatable • The same good health habits that protect your heart and lungs also help your eyes • It is never too late to take care of your eyes Importance of Good Vision for Seniors • Independence: working, driving and cooking • Quality of life: reading, watching TV and seeing grandchildren • Mental health: less isolation and depression • Physical health: fewer falls, which could lead to bone fractures Age-related Eye Conditions More Common in Seniors: • • • • • • Presbyopia Dimming of vision Cataract(s) Dry eye Glaucoma AMD (age-related macular degeneration) Aging: What most seniors can expect Presbyopia: • Diminished ability to focus on near objects • Happens to nearly everyone • Often first noticed between ages 40-50 • Typically results in the need for reading glasses or bifocals Presbyopia: What to do • Make sure your eyeglasses are correct for both distance and reading • Visit an eye-care professional at least every two years • For convenience, buy several pairs of inexpensive reading glasses Aging: Dimmer vision Caused by: • Slight loss of retinal function • Beginning cataract(s) Dimmer Vision: What to do • Use brighter lighting for reading • For safety, make sure your home is well lit • See your eye doctor if there is a sudden loss of vision Cataract • • • • Caused by eye’s lens becoming opaque Nearly everyone will have them by age 90 Smoking increases incidence of some types Symptoms include: 1. Dark, fuzzy vision even with glasses 2. Glare 3. Halos around bright lights (dangerous for driving) Cataract: What to do • When your eye doctor thinks your cataract(s) are “ripe” have them removed surgically • This is a very common, simple and successful procedure • Surgery involves implanting an artificial lens (No more “coke-bottle” glasses) Dry Eye • Very prevalent in people over 55 • Two-to-three times more common in women • Caused by insufficient tears or by eyelid inflammation • Persistently painful, stinging or itchy eyes • Causes much suffering • Sometimes leads to serious infection Dry Eye: What to do • • • • • Artificial tears are mainstay of treatment Try different eye drops to find best for you Eye ointment at bedtime may help Avoid wind, smoke and very dry rooms See an eye doctor if the condition persists Potentially Blinding Diseases Very serious—requires medical care: • AMD • Glaucoma • Diabetic retinopathy Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) • Leading cause of blindness and irreversible vision loss in seniors • Gradually destroys central retina (macula) needed for sharp vision • Three times more common in smokers • Late stage has two forms: “dry” and “wet” • Wet form caused by leaky blood vessels behind retina AMD Symptoms • Experience no pain • Blurred central vision, even with glasses • Later symptom includes dark or empty area in center of vision • In “wet” form, straight lines appear curved AMD: What to do • Don’t smoke • To monitor deposits behind retina, get a comprehensive eye exam, with dilated pupils, at least every 2 years • New treatment for wet form can stop and sometimes reverse disease • This involves injections into eye to stop growth of new vessels Glaucoma • Called “silent thief of sight” (no symptoms until permanent damage done) • Gradually destroys optic nerve • Peripheral (side) vision lost first • Essential for seniors to have comprehensive eye exam at least every 1-2 years Glaucoma: What to do • • • • • Get periodic eye exam, with dilated pupils (drops) at least every 1-2 years This detects glaucoma before any damage sets in Prescription eye drops usually halt disease May require trial of different types of drops If necessary, a simple surgery can increase fluid flow out of eye Diabetic Retinopathy • Serious complication of diabetes • Technically not age-related • Increases with duration of diabetes, hence, with age • Leaky blood vessels inside retina • Distorted and lost vision near leaks Diabetic Retinopathy: What to do • Best to prevent diabetes in the first place • Diabetes is related to obesity, so maintain a healthy weight • If you have diabetes, be under the care of an eye doctor (visit at least once a year) • If retinal hemorrhage occurs, get laser treatment quickly—this usually saves sight Low-vision Aids • • • • If you have lost considerable vision from eye disease, don’t lose hope “Low vision” is 20/200 (with glasses) or worse, but it is not blindness Go to an optometrist who specializes in low-vision aids Low-vision aids can help you resume normal activities Types of Low-vision Aids Can be as simple as: • Magnifying glass • Large-print books and clocks • Electronic magnifiers for books and TV • Special eyeglasses to allow driving Why should I see an eye doctor? • Diagnose glaucoma before there is irreversible vision loss • Make sure eyeglasses are correct • Treat cataracts, AMD and diabetic retinopathy in a timely manner When should I see an ophthalmologist or optometrist? • All seniors, at least every 1- 2 years • More often if you have: • • • • • An eye disease Family history of serious eye disease Diabetes An autoimmune disease (like Sjögren’s or MS) that can affect the eye A sudden change in vision What you can do to keep clear vision for life • • • • • Make sure your home is well lit Keep your eyeglasses up-to-date See an eye doctor regularly If you smoke, try to stop Maintain a healthy weight Be eye smart! It’s largely up to you to maintain your eye health – be proactive! To learn more, visit: • • • • • www.lcif.org www.womenseyehealth.org www.Schepens.harvard.edu www.healthyvision2010.org www.nei.nih.gov/health Presented by: Lions Clubs International Foundation working in partnership with Women’s Eye Health.org to prevent blindness Funded through a Lions Clubs International Foundation SightFirst grant. For more information please visit www.lcif.org and www.womenseyehealth.org.