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Geriatric Eye Care

Senior couple beach bicycleMississauga Vision Centre and Brampton Vision Centre know that as you grow into the later, golden years of your life, your risk for serious, vision-threatening eye conditions grows significantly. This is why we offer our older patients special attention with these risks in mind, as well as low vision screenings and assistance and advice concerning low vision aids to those in their golden years who may have trouble leaving the house.

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Once you hit the age of 65 and older, eye doctors recommend that you have a comprehensive eye exam at least every two years. Even if you aren’t experiencing any symptoms or trouble seeing, it is still important to have regular screenings. This is because eye conditions such as glaucoma and macular degeneration progress slowly and often have very slight, if any, symptoms. This is why many people don’t realize that they have these eye conditions until it is too late to save their vision in a significant way. This becomes increasingly common in the older population set.

A relatively new subspecialty of Optometry, geriatric eye care services are provided as an important part of one’s overall health management. With aging comes an increased need for comprehensive eye exams and for high-level, advanced treatment of many common ocular diseases. In addition, more and more of the global elderly population is enjoying their golden years with an active and healthy lifestyle. Nowadays, there is an unprecedented quality of life for seniors that makes quality geriatric eye care even more important than ever.

Eye Exams to Diagnose Ocular Disease

Complete ocular evaluations for the geriatric population pay special attention to signs of age-related diseases, such as macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and cataracts. These exams are recommended annually past the age of 65, even if there are no visual complaints or reported symptoms. Many common eye diseases progress very slowly and don’t generate symptoms until it is too late to prevent a degree of vision loss.

Physical conditions such as hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, which rise in frequency as people age, are strongly associated with eye health problems. A total geriatric eye exam will inspect for the signs or effects of these risk factors. Cataracts are perhaps the most prevalent ocular disease in the elderly, and another significant feature of geriatric eye care is quality preoperative and postoperative management for cataract surgery. The specialized attention given by dedicated geriatric optometrists has been linked with more successful outcomes from surgical procedures to remove cataracts.

Visual Acuity Testing

Fortunately, many visual conditions in seniors are treatable, and optometric experts are now being specially trained to evaluate geriatric eyesight. An assessment of visual acuity is a vital part of complete eye examinations for seniors. Statistics report that as many as 94% of patients in nursing homes require eyeglasses for myopia or presbyopia, yet sadly only 31% may be wearing appropriate eyewear vision correction! Untreated visual impairment can put the elderly at risk for many negative consequences, such as eyestrain, blurred eyesight and increased incidences of falls due to decreased coordination and lost balance. These falls are particularly hazardous, as they lead to a higher risk of injury and dependence, which severely impacts quality of life for the aged. An up-to-date vision prescription and adequate eyeglasses are imperative for long-term health of the whole body.

Low Vision

Low vision is another unfortunately common part of aging, often making driving, reading and other daily tasks no longer possible for those who suffer from it. Mississauga Vision Centre and Brampton Vision Centre provide treatment for low vision and or optometrists will speak to you about low vision aids that will help you to maintain your independence as long as possible.

Eye Symptoms and Warning Signs

Routine geriatric eye examinations are the best preventive medicine, however there may be significant symptoms that appear in between eye doctor exams, and these should not be ignored!

If you experience any of the following signs, it’s advised to schedule a visit to your eye doctor:

I’m seeing floaters across my vision…

Noticing tiny shapes that seem to drift across your field of vision may be meaningless, or it may indicate a retinal detachment.

I think I am having vision loss…

This could be due to macular degeneration or a severe migraine, or it could point to various other eye conditions. It could also mean that a stronger eyeglass prescription is needed.

My eyes are tearing a lot…

Excess tears could be the result of many culprits, including allergies, an irritating substance in the eye, corneal abrasion or infection.

I am having trouble with my eyesight…

Any change in eyesight, such as trouble focusing, double vision, blurry or cloudy sight, seeing halos around lights, poor night vision, sensitivity to light, seeing spots or flashes of light, viewing wavy lines instead of straight and trouble identifying colors, is a warning sign to call an eye doctor.

My eyes always seem to twitch…

This may be a sign of a muscle problem or other health condition.

If you notice any of the following signs in an elderly person, it’s recommended to book an appointment at the eye doctor. These include:

  • Excessive blinking or squinting
  • Loss of coordination, such as tripping or bumping into things all of the time
  • A change in the appearance of his eyes: this could be described as crossed eyes, a change in the color of his irises, redness or swelling, bulging eyes or a bump on his eyelid.
  • Trouble reading signs or recognizing people
  • Wearing clothing that is mismatched or stained
  • Complaints about how his eyes feel: examples include discharge, itching and burning, pain, eye fatigue or trouble with closing his eyelid.
  • Bringing objects and text close to his eyes in order to view them

Collaboration is Necessary for Top Geriatric Care

When providing optometric care for seniors, collaboration between all medical providers is critical. Many elderly patients take a variety of medicines, and there’s often a complicated medical picture. Communication and the full sharing of information is the best way to ensure that the patient receives the most appropriate, individualized eye care.