Eye Care and Conditions in Seniors
The senior population of the United States today is increasing faster than it has at any other time in our nation’s history. There are currently more than 50 million seniors living in America, and that number is expected to double by 2060.
As our population ages, having access to resources such as housing, financial assistance, and healthcare will help our seniors maintain quality of life and independence in their communities. You can find more information on this and other helpful resources for Kentucky seniors from our patners at the links below:
Vision loss is a major healthcare problem for seniors, which is why we recommend annual eye exams for all our senior patients at Derby City Eye Care in Crestwood, Kentucky. By age 65, one in three Americans will have some form of vision-impairing condition. The four most common eye diseases in seniors are cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and age-related macular degeneration.
A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye. As the lens becomes cloudy, light has a harder time passing through it, which causes vision to worsen over time. For most people, this clouding starts to become noticeable in their 40s and 50s, especially when driving at night or in the rain. Glare from oncoming car headlights and halos around lights become increasingly bothersome. As the clouding of the lens progresses, some people may even notice vision loss or double vision.
Surgery is the only way to get rid of cataracts. Most people get cataract surgery between 65 and 85 years of age. During this procedure, the surgeon removes the cloudy lens of the eye and replaces it with a new, synthetic, transparent lens that restores vision back to normal.
At Derby City Eye Care, during your eye health evaluation, we will carefully examine your lens for any signs of cataract formation. If a cataract is noticed, we will discuss our findings with you, and if surgery is necessary we will refer you to a trusted and respected surgeon in our community.
You can read more about cataracts and cataract surgery here.
Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the world, and is a condition where the pressure inside the eye damages the optic nerve that connects the eye to the brain. When this connection between the eye and the brain is disrupted, it can cause vision loss in the periphery (side vision), and if left untreated will eventually lead to blindness.
In most cases of glaucoma, there are no signs or symptoms until the condition is quite advanced. In fact, the majority of people with glaucoma don’t even know they have it. But once someone is diagnosed with glaucoma, there are several treatment options available to lower the eye pressure and slow the loss of vision. These include eye drops, pills, and surgery when necessary.
During your examination at Derby City Eye Care, we will carefully check the pressure in your eyes to make sure it is normal for your age. We will also check your peripheral vision and optic nerves for any signs of glaucoma. If we suspect that you have glaucoma, we will discuss further testing and treatment options with you during your visit.
You can read more about glaucoma here.
Diabetes is a medical condition that affects the blood sugar and the blood vessels in the body. Excess sugar in the blood can damage the vessels which causes them to break and leak. Over time, these leaky vessels are unable to get enough oxygen and other vital nutrients to the tissues and organs of the body, which eventually leads to tissue and organ failure.
Diabetic retinopathy is an eye condition where blood vessels damaged by diabetes cannot provide the retina with the nutrition that it needs to work properly. As those vessels break and leak blood, protein, and fluid, they block light from entering the retina, which causes blurred or distorted vision and ultimately vision loss. The best way to prevent diabetic retinopathy is to carefully monitor and control your blood sugar. The most effective way to treat diabetic retinopathy is to stop blood vessel leakage through retinal laser surgery.
At Derby City Eye Care, we will carefully check your retina for any signs of diabetic retinopathy during your examination. If it is present, we will discuss the severity and treatment options, and refer you to a local retinal specialist, if needed.
You can read more about diabetic retinopathy and treatments here.
Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision impairment in people over 65 years of age. The macula is the small part of the retina that helps us recognize faces, see color, detect movement, and read. If it is not working properly, it drastically affects our ability to navigate the world around us.
Degeneration occurs in the macula when its blood vessels fail to remove old and dead cells in a timely manner. As these cells and other debris piles up, the healthy macular cells and blood vessels get choked off, and the tissue dies.
Seniors with macular degeneration have more treatments today than ever before. In addition to traditional laser surgery, there are now several different medications that can be injected into the eye to slow the progression of this degenerative and debilitating condition.
During your eye examination at Derby City Eye Care, we will carefully evaluate your macula for any signs of degeneration. If we see any macular changes, we will discuss our findings with you and we will discuss your treatment options. If necessary, we may also refer you to a retinal specialist in the community for further evaluation and treatment.
You can read more about macular degeneration here.
Eye Tests for Seniors
Commonly called the “air puff,” this machine measures the pressure inside your eyes to help the doctor determine if you are at risk for glaucoma.
This instrument focuses light on the front of the eye to assist the doctor in evaluating the severity of eye diseases like dry eyes and cataracts.
This machine flashes lights throughout your central and peripheral (side) vision to detect early signs of eye diseases like cataracts, macular degeneration, and glaucoma.
During this part of the exam, the doctor will evaluate how well you are seeing in the distance and up close by asking you to read a series of letters or numbers on a chart.
Anterior Eye Health Assessment
For this part of the examination, your doctor will evaluate the health of the front of your eyes with a microscope to get a detailed view of your lenses, irises, corneas, and eyelids, and to identify any eye conditions or diseases that may be affecting them.
Posterior Eye Health Assessment
The final part of the eye exam is checking the health of the retinas, optic nerves, and maculae in the back of the eyes for signs of glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and age-related macular degeneration. Your doctor may do this by putting drops in your eyes to enlarge (dilate) the pupils or by taking a picture with a digital, ultra-widefield camera called the Optomap.
At the conclusion of your exam, Dr. Fowler will discuss his findings and recommendations with you, and answer any questions you may have about your eye health.
If it has been more than a year since your last eye examination, or if you or a loved one are experiencing changes in your vision, please call our office at 502-996-7450, or click here to schedule an appointment for an eye exam at our Crestwood office located inside Walmart as soon as possible.