Eye Exam Critical For Elderly And SeniorsPosted on September 30, 2014 by ElderCare Resources Phoenix in Blog, Caregiver Education, Education, Independent Living, Vision Loss
One of the things that need immediate attention as we age is our vision. How often do we miss this when we go for our physical check-up?
We are so concerned about our blood sugar level, heart health and blood pressure that we often forget to check our eyes until we notice something amiss. Even those who wear prescription glasses seldom do regular eye checks.
Problems with vision that are age-related usually creep in unannounced because they usually have no early symptoms or pain. Cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration are some of the common age-related eye diseases that affect the elderly’s quality of life.
This would be about when the elderly would either complain about blurred vision, or get into traffic troubles, scrapes and accidents.
When my late father started to have scratches and dents on his precious sports car, we never thought it had anything to do with his eyesight. We just suspected that his reflexes were less than perfect or he was in too much of a hurry. But all this didn’t add up because dad was an excellent driver and a very careful one at that.
It was when he hit a small car from behind, apologised for it and paid for the damages that we knew something was amiss. That was totally out of character. We insisted that he had his eyes checked as soon as possible but only managed to get it done much later during his routine physical checkup.
His physician referred dad to an eye specialist, and after some tests, dad was diagnosed as having macular degeneration. After a few months, the degeneration continued to a point that he was declared clinically blind although he still had periphery vision. He had to stop driving, among other things. He was shattered.
All the pieces of the puzzle for him came together then. It all finally made sense why his vision became so poor. But he had a tough time to accepting how rapidly it all happened.
It was a similar situation with my late mother. She was diabetic and her vision became so poor that she recognised us mostly by our voice, touch and smell. She could see light and shadows but did’nt have clear vision.
Before she got to that stage, I remember her always complaining that the house had gone dark. In the evenings, she wanted all the lights on and kept asking for brighter light bulbs.
We went to so many opticians and changed her glasses so many times but to no avail. It was only when she complained about this to her endocrinologist that she was referred to an eye specialist who diagnosed her condition. We were told that no increase in power of the prescribed glasses was going to help her sight.
Mom was diagnosed with glaucoma, a condition that causes damage to the optic nerve and gets worse over time if untreated. Without treatment, glaucoma can cause permanent blindness within a few years.
At that point in their lives, there wasn’t much more we could do to improve their vision. We could only delay further deterioration with medication.
My parents’ doctors cautioned us to take care of our health and eyes. Learn from this, they told us. Any time our parents or family members are diagnosed with diseases like diabetes, heart diseases, hypertension, cancer, macular degeneration and glaucoma, we should be extra careful too.
We should alert the doctor. If we are over 40 with such medical histories, we should be more diligent about taking care of our health. With these health risks, we may need to visit doctors more frequently.
Doctors strongly recommend that anyone over 50 should get an annual comprehensive eye exam. Catch the problem early before it steals your sight.
By: Putri Juneita Johari, New Straits Times