Updated: Oct 15, 2021
by Mary Shannon (Guest Author) | SeniorsMeet.org |
There is an idea that loss of eyesight is a normal part of aging, but this is only true to a certain extent. There are many different ways that our vision can change as we grow older, only some of which are “natural” results of aging. As a senior, it is crucial that you understand how your vision is likely to change, the importance of doing regular checks, and the ways in which you can keep yourself healthy and safe.
Why Does Senior Vision Deteriorate?
First, we need to separate normal vision deterioration with vision-related diseases. The first is common and easy to solve, while the second is much more complex.
Approximately 75 percent of American adults wear vision aids, and 60 percent have farsightedness. Also called presbyopia, this condition is common among older adults. This is trouble seeing things up close, which is why most seniors need reading glasses. Presbyopia happens as the lens in your eye stops changing shape as easily, and it is a natural part of aging.
Another common problem is cataracts, which is a disease but is so common in seniors that it is often also considered a normal part of aging. It is also relatively easy to fix with surgery.
More serious age-related eye diseases include macular degeneration, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy. Macular Degeneration - also known as AMD - is the leading cause of blindness among seniors in America.
The Importance of Regular Vision Checks
As you can see, eye exams are not just about keeping your prescription up to date. A complete eye exam can identify illnesses, like the ones described above, before they cause permanent loss of eyesight.
According to Harvard Health, this is particularly important for AMD, since catching the disease in its early stages could allow for treatment. You should also know the warning signs, which are distortion and blurring in the central part of your vision.
Seniors should have an eye exam every 1 to 2 years. Certain risk factors like diabetes, family history of glaucoma, and previous eye trauma could mean you need to visit more often.
Vision Healthcare Coverage
Seniors should be aware that Original Medicare doesn’t cover vision care. It is worth considering signing up for a Medicare Advantage plan. These plans offer coverage for vision care, as well as other benefits like dental care, hearing care, and prescription drug coverage.
EyeCare America is a program that provides free or low-cost eye exams for seniors who qualify. While this can be a very useful tool, bear in mind that the program doesn’t cover any additional care you might need. This means a Medicare Advantage policy remains the best form of vision coverage.
Other Ways to Stay Safe
Regular eye checks are crucial to prevent loss of vision and, in the worst cases, blindness. However, there are other ways to keep your eyes healthy. These include eating a nutritious diet rich in vision-boosting foods like dark leafy greens and carrots, managing your weight to prevent diabetes and glaucoma, and wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes from UV rays. Overall, the more you take care of your body as a whole, the better your eyes will work for longer.
You should also make sure you are staying safe, especially if your vision has already deteriorated. You should make sure that all areas of your house are well lit and free of clutter, since poor vision is a huge contributor to falls and trips in the home. If you don’t have enough lighting, add some extra lamps or plug-in lights. And consider having your windows cleaned a few times a year to ensure plenty of sunlight is streaming in. You can work with local contractors to make sure your window panes are sparkling. Simply search for “window cleaners near me” to find reputable companies. Finally, for seniors who still want or need to drive, the AARP’s Smart Driver Course can be a great refresher.
While it’s normal to struggle a bit to read as you get older, it is definitely not normal to lose your eyesight. Good vision care can prevent this and identify any illnesses before they have time to permanently damage your eyes. Make your next eye doctor appointment right away, and don’t forget to look into healthcare coverage that protects your vision.
Do you need Supplemental Medicare Coverage? If you’re not sure, connect with Dion J. Jayakoddy today to find the right coverage to fit your circumstances. Call (408) 390-5079.
Photo via Pixabay
About the Author: Mary Shannon
Mary Shannon created SeniorsMeet.org, along with her husband, Bob, to have a website that allows seniors to meet up and talk about topics that are relevant to their daily lives. They hope to build SeniorsMeet into a supportive community of like-minded seniors.