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Vision Changes in Seniors

May is Vision Health Month in Canada!

To start off the month, we wanted to share some common eye and vision changes that occur as we age. According to the Canadian Association of Optometrists, typically beginning in the early to mid-40s, the eyes begin to deteriorate. This deterioration can become more evident the older we get.

Common Eye & Vision Changes

Colour - this change is not necessarily the change of eye colour we have, but rather the colours that we see. The cells in our eyes that control how we see colour may become less sensitive as we age. This can mean that colours appear duller or less vibrant than before. It may also cause difficulty in our ability to distinguish certain colour shades such as green or blue.

Light - Have you ever stepped outside and been suddenly taken aback by the level of brightness or light shining in your eyes? As we age, the ability to adjust our eyes to changes in light levels becomes increasingly slower than when we were younger. Your eyes will adjust but may take longer, especially when faced with extreme level changes, such as very sunny and bright spaces or a dimly lit room such as a movie theatre. Our pupils also tend to become smaller and less responsive as we age, which then requires more light needed to be able to see clearer.

Good lighting at home and in other spaces is key to keeping you focused and reducing the possibility of injury from vision-related falls.

Tears - As we age, our eyes produce fewer tears which can lead to frequent dry eyes or irritation. Blurry vision, headaches and eye fatigue may be the result of dry eyes. If you or someone you know experiences such symptoms, plan a visit to your local optometrist.

Functionality - As we age, the functionality of our eyes decreases, depending on a variety of factors. The shape and flexibility of the eye or lens may begin to change, which means that street signs you were once able to see from far are now more difficult to see. This may require prescriptive eyeglasses or correcting an existing lens prescription to prevent further straining on the eye when trying to focus on objects or when reading.

Disease - Ocular diseases, such as cataracts, glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration can lead to vision impairment. A reduction in vision may greatly affect your ability to carry out daily tasks that were once easy and simple to perform. A visit to your optometrist on a regular basis is key to helping manage your eye health.

Low Vision - Approximately 1.5 million Canadians report having vision loss. Low vision is a loss of eyesight that cannot be sufficiently improved with conventional glasses, contact lenses, medical treatments, or surgical interventions. Individuals may experience difficulty with everyday tasks such as reading, driving, watching television or recognizing faces. The causes of low vision may stem from birth defects, eye injuries or eye diseases. Diseases such as diabetes, cataracts, and glaucoma may also put you at risk for low vision. That is why routine eye exams every 1-2 years are a crucial part of early detection of eye diseases and prevention of low vision.

If you or your senior loved one is experiencing any of these changes in vision, be sure to visit an optometrist. They can assist with diagnosis and preventative action, and provide you with opportunities to maximize independence and maintain your quality of life.


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