The problem with changes in our eyesight is that they usually happen gradually and are often painless. So, we just don’t wake up one day and realize there’s a serious problem. Unfortunately, there are serious problems associated with common eye conditions that affect seniors.

Some of the signs that a senior is experiencing vision problems may not be obvious. In fact, they may be behavioral changes you might not even associate with a vision problem. For example, they may stop reading or start taking the wrong medication. Or, they may begin to trip and fall frequently. Here are 4 eye diseases that you should know about.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

AMD is the result of damage to a part of our retina which allows us to see directly ahead. It’s painless and slow—and it’s the leading cause of vision loss or blindness in those of us age 65 or older.

Because it’s gradual, seniors sometimes don’t report any problems until AMD is moving into an advanced stage. At that point, they’ll have problems seeing things that are directly in front of them, or complain of shadowy areas at the center of their vision.

There’s no complete cure for age-related macular degeneration, but treatments often can improve vision and delay progression of the disease.

Cataracts

This is probably the eye disease we most closely associate with aging. While cataracts can happen quickly and at any age, they are the most common cause of vision loss for us if we are over the age of 40.

Our vision beings to become hazy or cloudy. We may pass it off as a change in our vision and decide we need a stronger prescription for our glasses. In the early stage of cataracts, this may actually help. In later stages, it’s going to be necessary for surgical removal.

Diabetic Retinopathy

If you don’t know what this is, you probably can at least guess by the name that it’s caused by diabetes. This common eye disease in seniors is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina. It may not even be noticeable at first.

In this case, it’s likely that someone will be diagnosed with diabetes first. Your chances of getting diabetic retinopathy increases the longer you live with the disease. There are treatments for this if it’s caught in early stages. Vision loss from diabetic retinopathy seldom can be restored.

Glaucoma

You probably have heard of this eye disease. It’s actually a catch-all description for a group of eye disorders that cause damage to the optic nerve. Unfortunately, there’s usually no pain and no symptoms until significant optic nerve damage has occurred.

The most common symptom is difficulty with peripheral vision. But this only starts to happen after irreparable damage. For this reason, it’s extremely important to have regular eye exams to check for glaucoma. This is done with a simple test that measures the pressure inside your eye.

There are daily eye drops that reduce ocular pressure. They are extremely effective. If not taken as prescribed, however, the glaucoma will worsen and lead to blindness.

These 4 common eye diseases all lead to blindness and eye complications if not treated. Many seniors may already have poor eyesight. These eye diseases produce no pain or discomfort, and they come on gradually. It’s up to caregivers and medical professionals to be alert for early symptoms.

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