Aging and Vision Changes

Dr. Patrick Monaghan OD

Dr. Patrick Monaghan OD

On Wednesday May 2nd our Dr. Patrick Monaghan,  had the opportunity to speak to a group of seniors at Good Shepherd Church about vision care and how they can help to take care of their eyes and maintain their vision.

By the age of 65, 1 in 3 seniors will have some vision loss from eye disease, which can increase the risk of things such as falls, social dependence, medication errors, and even basic activities of daily living. But only 43% of Ontario seniors are getting regular eye exams. At 65, annual eye exams are covered by your health card, and can be very important in detecting eye disease – most of which is treatable if caught early!

The 3 most common eye diseases are Macular Degeneration, Glaucoma, and Cataracts.

Macular Degeneration (AMD) affects the central portion of your vision, and can come in 2 forms: dry or wet. The early symptoms can include blurred vision, distortion, and even some difficulty recognizing faces. There are some risk factors that you can control to help lower your chance of getting AMD: quitting smoking, protecting your eyes from harmful UV with a good pair of sunglasses, and eating a healthy diet rich in antioxidants. Your doctor may recommend certain vitamins as well depending on your risk.

Glaucoma is the disease that affects peripheral vision, but is tricky because it will not have any symptoms. It’s very simple to identify risk factors in a routine eye exam and your doctor will help determine which tests could be useful to diagnose the disease and track possible progression. When caught early, glaucoma can be very easy to manage, usually with a daily eye drop to control the pressure.

Finally, Dr. Monaghan spoke about cataracts – the most common eye disease of them all. Everyone will get cataracts, but certain factors like family history, medications and your general health may affect how early they show up or how quickly they progress. Cataracts can cause a general decrease in your overall vision, increased glare, and may generally make your vision just seem a little less bright or vivid. Luckily, cataracts are fixed with a very simple surgery.

Diseases affecting your eyes should be detected as soon as possible, and you shouldn’t wait until you have a problem to see your eye doctor. A routine eye exam once a year can make all the difference.