People of all ages experience vision problems from time to time. It might be an allergy that causes eyes to itch and water or dry, irritated eyes from too many hours spent staring at a computer screen. For seniors, however, some vision changes can be symptoms of a more serious illness. They can be warning signs for health problems ranging from a stroke to diabetes.
6 Changes in Vision that Can Signal a Serious Problem
Here are vision changes you or your senior loved one shouldn’t ignore:
- Blind spots: A sudden blind spot (or blind spots) in your line of vision needs to be addressed quickly. High blood pressure, diabetes, and even a stroke are a few serious issues that can cause blind spots. Call your doctor’s office to seek advice on whether you should schedule an appointment or go to the emergency room.
- Floaters: Another vision issue that requires immediate medical intervention is a detached retina. One of the first symptoms of this condition is “floaters” appearing in your vision. A burst of color or light is another warning sign. Left untreated, a detached retina can cause permanent blindness.
- Sudden changes: Blurry vision or a sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes should never be ignored. They can be warning signs of a stroke or a transient ischemic attack (TIA). This condition requires immediate medical attention —don’t “wait to see if the symptoms disappear.” Call 911 immediately. Every minute counts when it comes to preventing permanent disability—or even death—if someone is experiencing a stroke.
- Cloudy vision: This is the classic sign of cataracts, a condition more common as we grow older. What many seniors don’t realize, however, is that cataracts can be a serious issue. Failing to have cataracts treated can lead to blindness.
- Dark spots: Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in seniors, so it’s important to know the symptoms. One is a dark spot appearing in the center of your vision. Other early warning signs are problems identifying colors and difficulty reading road signs.
- Halo: Another cause of blindness among older adults is glaucoma. Unlike other vision problems, the signs of glaucoma often don’t appear until the disease has progressed. This is why it is often referred to as being the “silent thief of vision.” Seeing halos around lights or experiencing eye pain are two symptoms to talk with your physician about.
Ophthalmologists typically recommend older adults have a vision screening at least once each year. It can help the eye doctor identify and intervene in potential problems early.
Assisted Living and Vision Loss
If you or a senior loved one has vision loss, the thoughtfully designed environment of an assisted living community can offer support. Call the Five Star Senior Living community nearest you to learn more!