Adult Vision: Over 60 Years of Age

It's a fact of life that vision changes occur as you get older. But these changes don't have to compromise your lifestyle. Knowing what to expect and when to seek professional care are important steps to safeguarding your vision.

As you reach your 60s and beyond, you need to be attentive to warning signs of age-related eye health problems that could cause vision loss. Many eye diseases have no early symptoms. They may develop painlessly and you may not be aware of changes to your vision until the condition is quite advanced. But wise lifestyle choices and regular eye exams can significantly improve your chances of maintaining good eye health even as you age.

You may not realize that health problems affecting other parts of your body can affect your vision as well. Individuals with diabetes or hypertension (high blood pressure), or taking medications that have eye-related side effects, are at greatest risk for developing vision problems.

Therefore, regular eye exams are even more important as you reach your senior years. The American Optometric Association recommends annual eye examinations for everyone over age 60. See your doctor of optometry immediately if you notice any changes in your vision.

Age-related Eye and Vision Problems

In the years after you turn 60, a number of eye diseases may develop that can change your vision permanently. The earlier these problems are detected and treated, the more likely you can retain good vision.

The following are some vision disorders of which you should be aware:
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Driving Safely After 60

If you are 60 or older, driving a car may be increasingly difficult. Age-related vision changes and eye diseases can compromise driving ability, even before you are aware of symptoms. You may be noticing difficulty judging distances and speed. Bright sunglight or the headlights of oncoming traffic at night may impair your vision.

Some age-related vision changes that commonly affect seniors' driving are: These tips can help you stay safe when driving, especially at night: [back to top]

Dealing with Vision Loss

Unfortunately, some people over 60 experience loss of sight beyond the normal, age-related vision changes. Macular degeneration, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy are among the eye health conditions that can lead to permanent vision loss. This loss of vision can take many forms and it may exist in varying degrees.

It is important to understand that visual acuity alone is not a good predictor of the degree of visual difficulty that a person may have. Someone with relatively good acuity (e.g., 20/40) can have difficulty functioning, while someone with worse acuity (e.g., 20/100) might not be experiencing any significant functional problems. Other visual factors such as poor depth perception, limited side vision, extreme sensitivity to lights and glare, and reduced color perception can also limit a person's ability to do everyday tasks.

However, low vision rehabilitative services can provide people with the help and resources needed to regain their independence. Individuals with low vision can be taught a variety of techniques to allow performance of daily activities with the remaining vision.

Your doctor of optometry can help plan a rehabilitation program so that you may resume an independent life within your condition's limitations. A wide variety of rehabilitation options are available to help people with low vision live and work more effectively, efficiently, and safely. Most people can be helped with one or more low vision treatment options. The more commonly prescribed devices are: In addition, there are numerous other products to assist those with a vision impairment, such as large-type books, magazines, and newspapers, books-on-tape, talking wristwatches, self-threading needles, and more. Talk with your optometrist to learn more about the options available to you.

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