Routine Eye Exams: Top Five Reasons Why Are They Important for Seniors

Older adults may underestimate the importance of having a yearly regular eye exam. If their glasses are working well for them, they may not want the expense of what feels like an unnecessary exam.

But eye exams aren’t important just for the sake of vision.

There are an increasing number of health care trials and tests that show routine eye exams can help identify a variety of problems ranging from cognitive decline to diabetes.

The health care experts at St. Charles Community offer our readers a quick summary of the health conditions that can be identified by scheduling a visit with the eye doctor every year.

  1. Optician using and ophthalmoscopeGlaucoma is the buildup of pressure within the eye. It causes damage to the optic nerve and can lead to a loss of peripheral vision or a complete loss of vision. A routine eye exam is critical to identifying glaucoma in the initial stages because it has no early symptoms or pain to let you know something is wrong.
  2. Cataracts are another common problem for seniors. They occur as we age and the lens of the eye becomes less flexible. Blurred or foggy vision and sensitivity to light are common symptoms. Cataracts are easily corrected with outpatient surgery.
  3. Research at the University of California – San Francisco suggests that there is a link between mild dilation of blood vessels in the retina and cognitive decline in women. Their researchers believe mild retinopathy that can be diagnosed during a routine eye exam can help can help identify the early stages of vascular changes in the brain.  Early diagnosis and treatment may help prevent the progression of cognitive impairments.
  4. Diabetic retinopathy is another disease of the eye that often has no early warning signs. But it is the leading cause of blindness in adults. It is caused by changes in the blood vessels in the retina. These blood vessels may swell and leak fluid. Having a yearly eye exam that includes dilation of the eye can help identify the disease.
  5. Along with the damage we know undiagnosed high blood pressure can do to your heart and kidneys, untreated hypertension can also cause damage to the blood vessels in the back of the eye. It can cause narrowing of the vessels in the retina, oozing and bleeding in the back of the eye, and swelling of the optic nerve. A routine eye can identify hypertensive retinopathy in its earliest stages.

To learn more about routine eye exams or to find a provider in your area who may offer sliding scale pricing based on income, visit eyecareAmerica. It is the Foundation for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. The offer support and services to the medically underserved.

How often do you have a routine eye exam? If you are a caregiver, does your older loved one have a yearly eye exam?

St. Charles Community is Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati’s most trusted senior care partner. A faith-based, nonprofit organization, we have served elders in our community for over 50 years. Contact us today at 859.331.3224 or email info(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)stcharlescommunity.org for your senior care and living needs.
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