Even with the best physical and memory care, seniors can feel like they are disappearing into themselves, leaving all of their favorite pleasures behind. This is no wonder; mobility begins to decline, hearing is often impaired and then there are the annoying vision problems that can make it difficult to read, watch television, participate in favorite hobbies or even recognize the ones you love. Even basic adult freedoms such as driving are eliminated from your repertoire.
Seniors and Cataracts: What You Need to Know to Keep Eyes Wide Open
While nobody can turn back the hands of time, there are things that caregivers and loved ones can do to keep seniors as connected as possible. Keeping up on their visual health is one of these. Cataracts, a clouding in the lens of the eye that negatively affects vision, are very common in the elderly. In fact, by age 80 more than 50% of Americans will either have cataracts or will have undergone a cataract surgery.
Maintaining good eye health, visiting the optometrist at least once a year and looking for signs and symptoms of cataracts are all steps that will work to preserve a senior’s vision for as long as possible, which also helps to preserve their ability to connect and engage with the world around them. Plus, good vision will also help to prevent elderly falls, which can lead to more serious physical injuries.
The longer a person has cataracts, the more difficult it becomes to repair the damage, which can lead to permanent blindness. This is why it’s so important to recognize the signs and symptoms of cataracts as early detection is the surest way to preserve eye sight for as long as possible.
What are the symptoms of cataracts?
First, a little about cataracts. The lens is located inside the eye, directly behind the pupil and iris. It works to direct light to the retina, which allows us to focus on what we are seeing. The pupil is filled with water and proteins that are arranged specifically to provide a clear view. As we age, these proteins begin to clump together, rearranging themselves such that they cloud the interior of the lens. As this clouding gets worse, so does vision.
The typical signs and symptoms of cataracts include:
- Blurry vision
- Reduced night vision, halos may begin to appear around lights
- Colors will seem faded or more muted than they used to
- Vision may be doubled or multiple images may appear for one eye
- Prescriptions for contacts or glasses become more frequent
- A cloudy or milky appearance in the pupil – visible to others
The problem is that vision is a tricky thing. Cataracts don’t form overnight. So, in many cases, the changes may not be as noticeable to the senior because they are happening slowly and over a period of time. It’s not until vision loss becomes more dramatic that a senior may say something about it. Thus, it’s important that caregivers pay close attention.
What causes cataracts?
While age is certainly a major factor, other medical conditions and lifestyle choices can speed cataract development. Diabetes, certain medications (including some diuretics), smoking and heavy drinking are all contributors of cataracts.
What is the treatment for senior cataracts?
Early detection is the best means of keeping cataracts at bay. Changes in the senior’s glasses/contacts prescription may help. If cataracts are more developed, outpatient surgery may be required. Cataract surgery has a high success rate – upwards of 90% of those who have cataract surgery report improved vision.
Not able to keep an close eye on your aging loved ones? Contact HomeAide Home Care, Inc. and learn more about how companion and home care giving services can enhance the health and well-being of your senior loved ones.