When was the last time you had your vision checked? Hopefully, it’s been in the last year or two. Adults over 60 years of age are at risk for physical changes, and that includes age-related eye diseases. Your vision—the acuity of your vision—is so important to your safety within and outside of your home environment. It’s also a critical factor in reducing your fall risk. Whether you’re reading the paper and walking down a flight of stairs or simply making your way to the bathroom, clear vision plays a huge role in your safety. Fact is, the risk linked to visual impairments and falls is widely known.1 According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 12 million Americans age 40 and older experience vision impairments, emphasizing the importance of early detection among adults.2
Age-related eye diseases should be assessed and treated before possibly irreversible damage occurs or treated to slow the progression. You may be familiar with four such diseases, described here briefly.
- Age-related macular degeneration—You experience age-related changes to the retina in your eye that result in not being able to see fine details, losing your central vision but not your peripheral vision. You don’t realize this is happening until your vision becomes blurred. To learn more, visit: aao.org/eye-health/diseases/amd-macular-degeneration
- Diabetic neuropathy—High blood sugar levels cause damage to the retina that results in abnormal blood flow or new blood vessels that grow on your retina, resulting in changes in your eyes that can result in loss of vision. To learn more, visit: aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-is-diabetic-retinopathy
- Glaucoma—High eye pressure builds up and starts to cause damage to the optic nerve, which is the leading cause of blindness for people age 60 and older. This can be gradual with no symptoms or acute, sudden blurriness and severe eye pain, considered an emergency. To learn more, visit: aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-is-glaucoma
- Cataract—Age-related changes or disease complications occur where the protein in our eyes breaks down in the lens of the eye and results in gradual clouding of the lenses and impaired vision. To learn more, visit: aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-are-cataracts
While the degree of visual impairment from these eye diseases varies, each affects not only your vision, but also your balance, how you step up and down steps and stairs, your cadence and sway when you walk, your ability to adjust your posture and move to avoid obstacles, how quickly you react and adjust to unfamiliar or changed conditions, the ease with which you perform your activities of daily living, and your ability to drive safely.
Your Harmony team asks questions about your vision and encourages you to have your eyes/vision evaluated annually—or at the very least, biannually—to diagnose, treat, and correct your vision. These tests are comprehensive and assess your visual acuity, depth perception, visual fields, and more.
If you’re already experiencing visual changes, your Harmony team will help you maximize your vision and function, compensate and enhance your stability to prevent trips and falls, and maintain—even increase—your independence within and outside of your home. If you have questions or concerns about your vision, or if there have been changes in your vision, be sure to let your Harmony team know. Your Harmony team is here to help you!
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1 Lord, S., Smith, S., & Menant, J. (2010). Vision and falls in older adults: Risk factors and intervention strategies. Clinics in Geriatric Medicine, 26: 569-581.
2CDC. Vision Health Initiative (VHI). Vision Impairment and Older Adult Falls. Available at: cdc.gov/visionhealth/resources/features/vision-loss-falls.html#ftn1