Most of us know that as we get older, we’re at increased risk of various health conditions. Most people over 65 wouldn’t think of skipping their annual checkup with their physician. Yet for some reason, we don’t all take such good care of our eyes. Unless we notice a significant vision change, we will often put off those eye checkups for far too long. And that’s a bad idea, because regular vision exams can actually catch serious problems early on, when they are much more treatable.
Glaucoma. Eye doctors something refer to glaucoma is the “silent thief” because patients often don’t notice symptoms until the disease is fairly advanced and begins to rob them of their sight. But when caught early, glaucoma is much more manageable.
Macular degeneration. This is the leading cause of blindness in seniors. But again, early detection means early treatment, and progression of the disease can be slowed significantly.
Diabetic retinopathy. This complication of diabetes can damage your eyesight or eventually cause you to go blind. With your eye doctor’s help, you can manage this symptom.
Cataracts. Cataracts are extremely common in older people, but they’re also very manageable. Updated prescriptions for glasses or contacts can prolong your need for surgery. And when you do opt for surgical treatment, it’s a simple procedure that carries very low risks for most patients.
Vision changes. Of course, a change in your vision is the most common reason you might seek an eye checkup. It’s normal to lose a bit of vision as we get older, and it happens gradually. Since vision changes can make your daily life more challenging and even dangerous (falls and car accidents become more likely) regular checkups can help you treat these changes before they become significant. You might need updated eyeglasses or contact lenses, but you will function better and suffer fewer headaches, too.
Your eye doctor might even notice early signs of general health conditions, such as hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes and carotid artery blockages. Yes, signs of these diseases can actually show up in your eyes. Your eye doctor will then refer you back to your regular physician to have those issues examined in more detail, so you can receive early treatment.