Age-Related Vision Problems - Warning Signs
Most of us experience changes in our vision as we age, particularly past the age of 40. However, some people develop serious age-related eye problems such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, retinal detachment, and vitreous detachment. While having your vision periodically examined by a professional ophthalmologist is the best way to detect the early development of optical diseases, there are some warning signs of age-related eye problems that reveal themselves without an eye exam.
It is imperative to see a physician immediately to have your eyes examined if you experience any of the following warning signs of age-related eye problems:
Sudden Pain or Redness
Although pain or redness in the eye can be caused by benign, temporary conditions like conjunctivitis (an eye infection), if the pain comes on suddenly and is accompanied by nausea or vomiting, it could signify a case of acute narrow angle glaucoma - a condition that can cause permanent damage to the optic nerve if left untreated.
The "Dark Curtain"
Many patients describe the sensation of retinal detachment as a "dark curtain" that is hindering their field of vision. If this happens to you it is imperative to seek medical attention, because if the retina is not reattached within a few hours permanent vision loss can result.
- Read More About Retinal Detachments
Spots and Floaters
Spots and floaters (small black dots that seem to follow your field of vision) are common in both young and old people, and when they develop the due to old age they are usually caused by a benign condition known as vitreous detachment. However, the sudden appearance of a large number of floaters could indicate a detachment or tear of the retina. If you notice a sudden increase in the number of floaters , seek medical attention immediately.
- Read More About Eye Floaters
Decreased or Distorted Central Vision
If you notice that you are gradually losing the ability to see things directly in front of you, or straight lines appear to be wavy, you may be experiencing symptoms of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) - one of the most common causes of adult onset blindness. Although age-related macular degeneration usually cannot be cured completely, if caught early enough there are treatments that can help you regain vision or prevent additional degeneration.
- Read More About Age-Related Macular Degeneration
If you find that your peripheral vision is slipping and you're only able to clearly see objects that are directly in front of you, you may be developing a case of glaucoma that is damaging the optic nerve. If left untreated, severe cases of glaucoma will result in continued vision loss, and possibly permanent blindness.
- Read More About Glaucoma
Glowing Lights and Difficulty Seeing Bright Colors
If you notice what appears to be halos surrounding lights, or are having difficulty differentiating between or processing bright colors, you may be developing symptoms of cataracts. Unfortunately, without cataract surgery the condition will cause the lens of your eyes to continue clouding over, until your vision is almost completely compromised. Cataract surgery involves replacing the cloudy optical lens with a synthetic intraocular lens.
- Read More About Cataracts
Constantly Irritated Eyes
If your eyes have recently been itchy, burning, or tearing excessively from time to time, you may be developing dry eye syndrome. Although this condition is relatively benign, the symptoms can be extremely annoying, and treatment can be obtained through prescription eye drops that can be purchased over-the-counter.
- Read More About Dry Eyes
If your vision is becoming blurry and you notice blind spots in your field of vision, you could be developing diabetic retinopathy. This condition affects individuals that have diabetes, and is usually (but not always) seen in individuals over the age of 40.
Blurred Vision in One Eye
Blurred vision that is concentrated in one of your eyes could indicate the development of a macular hole, a condition that can gradually worsened and result in permanent loss of vision. Individuals over the age of 60 are especially at risk for macular holes.
- Read More About Macular Holes
Double vision can be brought about by a plethora of diseases, some of which are not related to your eyes at all. In fact, double vision can even be a symptom of a serious health condition, a severe concussion, or the effects of the aftermath of a stroke. Thus, it is extremely important to see l emergency diagnoses if you notice any signs of double vision.
- Read More About Double Vision
While the aforementioned warning signs of age-related problems will not give you the ability to self diagnose your condition based on the symptoms alone, they should prompt you to schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment is key in preventing the advancement of almost every optical disease. Additionally, vision problems can cause danger especially while driving, which is why it's important to drive safely after the age of 60.