The aging eye…..eye exams for life!

As we collect our birthdays, a lot can happen to our bodies! Many things we used to take for granted begin to take effort or special time or accommodations. Our eyes are part of this whole process we call aging. Dr. Mitchell recommends annual eye health and vision examinations for all his patients. The American Optometric Association recommends an eye exam at least every other year through age 64, then annually thereafter. Today we’ll discuss some of the reasons frequent exams are important as we age, and what kind of changes we can expect.

Vision Changes:

  • Nearly everyone experiences vision changes in early to mid 40’s, even if they have never had vision trouble before. This begins with mild delays changing focus from near to far. Over time, we start to hold reading material and phones further and further away, or turn the light brighter. By age 55, our up close focusing ability no longer works very well. This process is called presbyopia. There are many different approaches to managing this decrease in near focusing flexibility

    • some people only wear reading glasses as needed

    • others wear bifocal or progressive lenses with distance vision through the top and reading vision in the bottom to improve flexibility looking near and far

    • some people wear contact lenses which can be designed to give flexibility for distance and near

    • Dr. Mitchell is an expert at helping to determine what approach suits you the best and when to employee some of the helpful tools we have available

Eye Health Changes:

  • As our eyes age, the risk for eye health diseases increases. Here we’ll discuss some of the most common issues, and how to watch for them.

    • Glaucoma: sometimes called the ‘sneak-thief’ of sight, glaucoma can cause slowly progressive vision loss without pain, warning, or obvious acute changes. It is related to loss of nerve tissue inside the eye, and in many people is preventable if identified and addressed early. Dr. Mitchell does three important things in each examination that help identify glaucoma:

      • Visual field screening: this checks for any areas of your vision that may be missing or compromised as a result of early glaucoma

      • Internal eye pressure test: often glaucoma is related to high pressure inside the eye, Dr. Mitchell checks this at every examination for any indication that it is higher than normal

      • Thorough examination of optic nerve tissue: direct observation of the nerve tissue can reveal if glaucoma is a problem

    • Macular Degeneration: this doesn’t often lead to complete blindness, but can cause loss of central vision which is where most of our detail and color vision takes place. Dr. Mitchell checks for early signs of macular degeneration at every examination, and discusses the risk or likelihood that you could develop macular degeneration. If you have some of these risk factors, you should be seen every year:

      • Family history of macular degeneration (especially parents or siblings)

      • History of smoking

      • Over age 65

      • Diabetes or other vascular issues like high blood pressure

      • Loss of clarity or distortion in central vision

    • Cataract: almost everyone develops cataracts, but the timing and severity vary quite a bit. Cataracts happen when the clear lens inside our eyes turn opaque and cloudy. If enough cloudiness occurs, it can be hard to see through. Most people have cataract surgery at some point, which removes the cloudiness and restores clear vision. Dr. Mitchell’s comprehensive eye health and vision examination can determine if you have cataracts, and how significant they are. Here are some symptoms to watch for if cataracts are developing.

      • Increased difficulty with night driving (too much glare from headlights)

      • Needing increased light to be able to read, even with reading glasses

      • Dampening of colors or smearing of vision

      • Difficulty seeing things you used to be able to see

Dr. Mitchell is available for comprehensive examinations, and is comfortable seeing patients of all ages. He can help you understand changes to your vision and eye health, and present solutions to help keep the ride enjoyable!

Mad River Eye Care